Naples, Fla. — Amy Young picked a profitable time for her first LPGA title on American soil.
Young birdied her final two holes for a 6-under 66 and claimed the $2 million prize to win the CME Group Tour Championship, the biggest event in women’s golf.
It was his fifth win on the LPGA Tour, with the previous four coming in Asia.
Young overcame a 3-shot deficit for eagle on the 13th fairway, and then he let Nasa Hataoka make a mistake at a crucial moment down the stretch. The 60 players who qualified for the season finale only had to win the race to become the CME Globe Champion.
Young makes a 10-foot birdie putt in style. The 34-year-old South Korean dropped his putter and cupped his face with both hands as he went to sign his card after half-a-dozen players charged onto the green and drenched him with so much bubbling that he wrapped a towel around his shoulders.
Hataoka closed with a 69 and Alison Lee tied for second with a 66. Lee was no closer than 2 shots along the back nine at Tiburon Golf Club. Lee, still winless on the LPGA Tour, finished her season with three runner-up finishes on the LPGA and a victory in Saudi Arabia on the Ladies European Tour.
Young was 3 shots behind through six holes of the final round when he got back into the mix with three birdies in the four-hole stretch. The pivotal shot stalled his approach on the par-4 13th, the ball landed near the pin and then rolled back about 6 feet into the cup.
Hataoka answered with a 10-foot birdie putt, and they were tied over the final three holes.
That’s when Hataoka, a 24-year-old from Japan, first blinked. His birdie putt from the ledge ran about 6 feet through the hole and the par putt caught the lip. That ended 35 straight holes without a bogey and dropped him one shot back.
On the par-5 17th, Hataoka missed with a pin cut to the left down a steep ridge. He pushed his chip to 8 feet and missed the birdie opportunity. Young, also left but short enough to hit a high pitch, nearly holed it and had a 3-foot birdie putt to give him a 2-shot lead heading into 18.
He looked nothing but calm, splitting the soft fairway and not even seeing the full flight of his approach roll 10 feet below the hole.
Lee had four birdies in the final eight holes.
Lilia Vu, a two-time major champion this year and the no. In the women’s world rankings, she closed at 1, 65 to finish alone in fourth place and win herself a valuable prize. She won the points-based LPGA Player of the Year for the first time.