Sunday, March 03, 2013 5:10 pm
Stacy Lewis holds on to win Singapore LPGA event
By JUSTIN BERGMANAssociated Press
Lewis, the 2012 LPGA Player of the Year, won the HSBC Women's Champions on Sunday for her sixth career title on the tour. She closed with a 1-under 71, overcoming two bogeys and some shaky putting on the back nine to hold off South Korea's Na Yeon Choi by one stroke.
"The last four or five holes, I was pretty nervous, I'm not going to lie," said Lewis, who finished at 15-under 273 Sentosa Golf Club. "I just played hard and put my head down and tried to make as many putts as I could, and fortunately I came away with the win."
Choi, who had a 72, was runner-up at the tournament for the second consecutive year. She lost to Angela Stanford in a four-player playoff last year.
Paula Creamer, hampered by a shoulder injury from a car accident last week in Thailand, held a share of the lead early in the day but struggled with her putting on the back nine and faded to a 71 to finish third at 13 under. Top-ranked Yani Tseng shot a 74 to finish tied for 28th.
Lewis and Choi began the day with a share of the lead, but Lewis was able to gain some distance with a superb shot on the par-5 seventh hole.
After a long drive off the tee, Lewis hit a 200-yard shot toward the pin that stopped about 5 inches short. She tapped in for eagle, leaving her one shot ahead of Choi and two ahead of Creamer.
"It was probably one of the best shots I've ever hit," Lewis said. "It had to be pretty close. I couldn't really tell from where I was but it was perfect."
The back nine, however, was hardly as smooth for the 28-year-old American.
Leading by two shots on the 15th, Lewis hit her tee shot into the water for the second time this week and slammed her club into the turf. The bogey allowed Choi to pull within one.
"I hit the fairway (on 15) in the practice rounds, but I did not hit it on any tournament day," she said. "I had two in the water and two in the bunker. ... Today I was just glad to get out of there with a bogey."
Then, on the 17th, Lewis hit into the bunker off the tee and missed a long par putt to card her second bogey of the back nine.
That gave Choi one last chance to even the score on the 18th, but she pulled her birdie putt wide by an inch. Lewis exhaled deeply after making a par putt to win.
"Last year, I finished runner-up, too," Choi said. "I went into the playoff and lost. I really wanted to win this week."
Creamer, aiming for her 10th LPGA title, missed a 20-footer for eagle on No. 12 by inches, covering her mouth in disbelief. Then she barely missed a 25-foot birdie putt on No. 14 and started laughing. Two more near-misses followed on Nos. 15 and 16, wiping the smile from her face.
"I had some good, long efforts and they just didn't fall in. Sometimes it's your day and sometimes it's not," she said.
Creamer never dreamed she'd be this close to the title after the car accident on the way to the airport in Bangkok after the LPGA Honda Thailand tournament last week.
She slammed her right shoulder into the dashboard and woke up Thursday still numb. Her caddie, Colin Cann, and fellow golfer Ai Miyazato were also injured. Miyazato withdrew before the tournament because of a sore back, neck and head.
"This is much more than what I even bargained for," Creamer said. "Didn't even know if I was going to tee it up. And taking a third after what Colin and I have been through, it's pretty good."
Tseng was never a factor after the first day. The five-time major winner hasn't won a tournament in nearly a year and could soon lose her top ranking to Choi or Lewis, who moves up to third after this week.
"I didn't hit the ball very well this week, but it's OK. You know you always have next year to come back here," she said.
"World No. 1, I know it's good and people like it," she added. "But I want to care about myself more and I just want to enjoy (my golf). If I lose (it), I'll get back one day, too."