Incheon, South Korea – Yani Tseng has enjoyed a year most of her contemporaries can only dream of, and the No. 1 player in the world added yet another victory Sunday to her growing list.
Tseng shot a five-under 67 in the final round of the 54-hole LPGA HanaBank Championship for her sixth LPGA Tour win of 2011 and 11th overall.
It's becoming old hat for Tseng, who has won half of her last 10 events to increase her ranking lead over No. 2 Suzann Pettersen to nearly five average points. The difference between Pettersen and No. 11 I.K. Kim has become smaller than the one between Tseng and Pettersen, and, with the victory, Tseng figures to widen that margin even more.
Tseng finished the tournament at 14-under 202, one shot better than 2009 and 2010 champion Na Yeon Choi, who entered the day tied with Tseng. Choi managed only a four-under and had nary a chance after Tseng's birdie on the eighth provided a three-stroke gap.
Many eyes were on 36-hole leader Soo-Jin Yang, a three-time winner on the Japan LPGA and the owner of a course record-tying 65 on Saturday. Yang, however, couldn't find Saturday's consistent stroke, struggling to an one- under 71 to finish third, three strokes off the pace at 11-under 205.
Tseng had a flawless round Sunday with five birdies, proving once again why she is becoming the new dominant force on this tour.
The pressure quickly got to Yang, who bogeyed Nos. 3 and 4 to fall off the leading pace. Tseng took advantage after four opening pars with birdies in three of four holes from the fifth to take the lead for good.
Tseng birdied the fifth and seventh -- both par-fives -- before a birdie at No. 8 gave her a total score of 12-under, three better than anybody else.
The world's top player slowed a bit around the turn, parring four straight from the ninth. In the meantime, Choi birdied both the 10th and 11th to get to within one shot of Tseng at 11-under.
At No. 13, the third of four par-five holes, Choi posted another birdie, but Tseng kept her distance by matching the reigning champion. Tseng recorded a critical birdie at the 15th to open up a two-stroke lead, giving her some breathing room down the stretch.
It was needed, as Choi finished out her round with a birdie at the 18th. Tseng posted a par, but it was good enough to win the tournament by one.
Yang, despite getting back to 11-under after a birdie at 13, was never able to seriously threaten Tseng. A bogey at the 16th dropped her to 10-under and ended her comeback bid for good.
MORE TO FOLLOW.