Mex­i­can Lopez wins in Blue Bay for maiden LPGA ti­tle

Gulf Times Sport - - SPORT -

Gaby Lopez was un­able to snare a sec­ond ace on China’s Hainan is­land yes­ter­day but rock solid golf in windy con­di­tions gave the Mex­i­can a one-shot vic­tory at the Blue Bay LPGA for her first ti­tle on the elite women’s tour.

Lopez cel­e­brated her 25th birth­day with a hole-in-one at the par-three 17th dur­ing the third round on Fri­day to help her to a one-shot lead over world num­ber one Ariya Ju­tanu­garn go­ing into the fi­nal day.

The world num­ber 136 hit four back-nine birdies in a one-over­par 73 that proved enough to keep her Thai play­ing part­ner at arm’s length as she fin­ished on eight-un­der 280 for the $2.1mn tour­na­ment.

Lopez fi­nally showed some nerves with two bo­geys to fin­ish, in­clud­ing a three-putt on the 72nd green, but was soon en­joy­ing the shower of sparkling drinks from her fel­low play­ers that is tra­di­tional for maiden win­ners.

“It wasn’t an easy day, it was tough,” said Lopez, the first Mex­i­can win­ner on the tour since Lorena Ochoa claimed the last of her 27 ti­tles in 2009.

“I wasn’t go­ing to sit and pro­tect my lead, I was go­ing to go out and give it my all and if it didn’t go my way, then okay.”

Ariya also shot a 73 for sec­ond place ahead of France’s Ce­line Boutier, who cel­e­brated her 25th birth­day with a flaw­less six-birdie 66 for third place on six-un­der at the Jian Lake Blue Bay lay­out.

World num­ber two Park Sunghyun of South Korea, who also played with Lopez and Ariya, en­dured a mis­er­able front nine and could only man­age a 74 for a share of sev­enth with Ariya’s older sis­ter Moriya (71).

Lopez, an alum­nus of the Univer­sity of Arkansas golf pro­gramme, was the sec­ond first­time win­ner on the LPGA’s Asian swing af­ter Nelly Korda claimed her maiden ti­tle in Tai­wan two weeks ago.

De­fend­ing cham­pion Shan­shan Feng of China fi­nally fired in the fourth round with a 68 to fin­ish ninth, seven shots be­hind Lopez.

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