History swirled all around Wei-Ling Hsu at the Pure Silk Championship presented by Visit Williamsburg, the colonial town founded in 1632. The River Course at the Kingsmill Resort is where Annika Sorenstam won the last of her 72 LPGA Tour titles. Moriya Jutanugarn and Jessica Korda, who already share a record with Sorenstam, were looking to add to their legacy. But Sunday belonged to Hsu.
When the day began, Hsu was tied for the lead with Jutanugarn, one stroke ahead of Korda as they played in the final threesome. But a closing-round 68 gave Hsu her first LPGA Tour victory at 13-under-par 271 with Jutanugarn at 273 and Korda in third place at 274.
But those numbers don’t even begin to tell the story of how the tide of history turned on an extremely rare four-shot swing on a single hole that involved a bad break for Jutanugarn and a good one for Hsu.
When that final threesome walked off the 14th green, Jutanugarn was at 12 under par, two strokes head of Hsu and three clear of Korda. As they headed to the 16th tee, Hsu had a two-stroke lead on both of her challengers, thanks to her eagle on the par-5 15th hole, a double bogey by Jutanugarn and a birdie by Korda.
“When I finished 18, I was really emotional, because couple weeks ago I ask my caddie, like if I won are you going to cry, and my caddie say, Yeah, I'll cry, and I told him like I'm not going to cry,” said Hsu, a 26-year-old from Taiwan whose rookie year was 2015 after earning her Tour card on the Epson Tour.
“I think this is happiest thing ever, and somehow I just cry so hard the last hole,” Hsu said. “But I feel happy. I pretty much nervous the whole day. And just got to 15 when I made that eagle putt, that really start shaking my hand and like my heart just pumping so hard almost come out.”
Sorenstam, who two days after winning at Kingsmill in 2008 announced she was retiring at the end of the year, and her sister Charlotta were the only siblings to both have LPGA Tour victories. Then Moriya won the 2018 HUGEL-AIR PREMIA LA Open to join Ariya Jutanugarn in the winner’s circle. Six months later, Nelly Korda won the Swinging Skirts Taiwan, matching Jessica as an LPGA Tour champion.
And with the 2021 season already featuring Sister Acts, it seemed as if Moriya and Jessica were poised to gang up on Hsu in the final round. Jessica won the season-opening Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions and Nelly took the next event at the Gainbridge Championship. Ariya got into the act by winning the Honda Thailand earlier this month.
And for much of Sunday it appeared as if Moriya would join Ariya just as Nelly had joined Jessica in winning this year. Then things got weird.
“I didn’t hit a very good drive and it went into the bunker,” Jutanugarn, the 2013 Rolex Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year, said about her troubles on No. 15.
“I just catch it a little too thin and the ball doesn't get up high enough,” she said about leaving her second shot in the bunker. “The sand was so soft and pretty fluffy and it came back down and just like I have like not very good lie, so I just have to chip out,” she said about her third shot.
As often happens, physical mistakes lead to mental mistakes and after Jutanugarn knocked her fourth shot on the green, she three-putted for double bogey. Meanwhile, Hsu, got a great bounce off the bunker on her second shot as it found the green and rolled within 10 feet, from where she made the eagle putt.
Charlotta Sorenstam’s lone LPGA Tour victory was in the 2000 Standard-Register PING Championship, holding off Hall of Famer Karrie Webb by two strokes. Overall, Jessica Korda has six wins while Nelly has four. Ariya Jutanugarn has won 11 times – including the U.S. Women’s Open and the AIG Women’s Open – and Moriya has one title.
Now Hsu, who came into the Pure Silk at No. 108 in the Rolex Rankings, has broken through. The victory also earned her a spot in the U.S. Women’s Open at Olympic Club in San Francisco on June 3-6.
Williamsburg, Va., played a major role in the colonial history of the United States. Kingsmill is forever linked to one of the game’s greats – Annika Sorenstam. And the Jutanugarns and Kordas have done something only achieved by the Sorenstams.
But Sunday belonged to Wei-Ling Hsu and it was as smooth as Pure Silk. In her 147th start, Hsu made history of her own. Like the Sorenstams, the Kordas and the Jutanugarns, she can now say she is an LPGA Tour champion.