Los Angeles (AFP) – Canada’s Brooke Henderson held her nerve to clinch the LPGA Tour Lotte Championship in Hawaii on Saturday, firing a three-under-par 69 to seal a four-shot victory.
Henderson had stumbled badly in Friday’s third round, dropping three shots in the closing three holes to leave the chasing pack just one shot behind on the par-72 layout at Ko Olina Golf Club, Oahu.
But the 20-year-old from Ontario shrugged off her third-round jitters to remain ahead of the field on Saturday, stretching her lead with two birdies on the front nine to make the turn at two under, 10 under for the tournament.
There was a brief wobble with a bogey on the par-three 12th but Henderson hit back with a birdie on the 14th followed by a birdie on the par-three 16th — where she made a double-bogey 24 hours earlier — to close out her win with a 12-under-par aggregate 276.
It was the sixth LPGA Tour win of the Canadian youngster’s career, which includes a victory as a teenager at the Women’s PGA Championship in 2016.
Henderson finished four shots ahead of Spain’s Azahara Munoz, who had thrust herself into contention with a five-under-par final round 67, playing flawlessly to move up the leaderboard having started the day six strokes off the pace.
The 30-year-old from Malaga began slowly with four straight pars, but grabbed her first birdie of the day on the par-five fifth hole. A further birdie at the ninth took her to five under at the turn.
However the charge began on the back nine, with consecutive birdies at the 11th and 12th before a further birdie on the 14th.
But the Spaniard was unable to add to her birdie spree in the closing holes, leaving her in the clubhouse waiting to see if Henderson would falter.
China’s Feng Shanshan, Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn and South Korea’s Park In-bee were tied for third on seven under.
American Mo Martin, who had started the final round one off the pace, saw her challenge evaporate with a nightmare six-over-par 78.
The 35-year-old 2014 British Open winner from Pasadena, California, carded four bogeys and a double-bogey as her quest for a first career LPGA win in the United States continued.