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Kang celebrates birthday with nervy title defense in Shanghai

China Daily | Updated: 2019-10-21 09:46
Danielle Kang. [Photo/Agencies]

SHANGHAI - Defending champion Danielle Kang capped her 27th birthday with a nailbiting one-stroke win at the Buick LPGA Shanghai on Sunday, fending off fellow American Jessica Korda.

Korda was the overnight frontrunner at 15 under, with Kang trailing by one in the second edition of the $2.1 million event.

Both finished the penultimate day six under par after Kang rallied from twin bogeys on the first two holes.

But a bogey for Korda and a birdie for Kang flipped the lead on the first hole, with the defending champion's commanding short game responsible for keeping her ahead for most of the day.

"It was a really stressful day but I definitely really played well out there," said Kang, adding she had "never been more nervous" than before taking her final stroke on the 18th.

Korda's superior driving drew her level twice, but a narrow miss on the green on No 11 notched her third bogey and she trailed for the rest of the round.

"It just turned out to be one of those days where it just wasn't meant to happen, I guess," said Korda.

"If you were going to tell me at the start of the week I would come out finishing second, play in the final group and have the week I did, I would've probably taken it, but this one definitely sucks."

Kang played solidly through the day to finish 16 under for the tournament with two birdies, dodging trouble on the 11th with a masterful recovery from the bunker on her second shot.

It was Kang's third professional tournament win after last year's Shanghai victory and the 2017 Women's PGA Championship at Olympia Fields in Illinois.

Day one leader Nasa Hataoka mounted a determined challenge through the day but was dogged by a rough patch through the back nine on the second day, finishing three strokes off the pace for the tournament.

The Japanese world No 4 tied for third with America's Kristen Gillman and China's Liu Yu.

World No 6 Brooke Henderson of Canada had another day to forget, the halfway leader finishing one over par for the second day running to tie at ninth.

Megan Khang shot up from 21st to end the weekend tied for seventh thanks to a hole-in-one on the 150-yard 11th.

Zhang Yunjie achieved the same feat on the 162-yard seventh to make Shanghai the second tournament of the 2019 LPGA Tour to see five holesin-one.

China No 1 Feng Shanshan finished in a three-way tie for 14th at 281.

Associated Press

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