OLYMPIA FIELDS, Chicago: American Danielle Kang birdied the par-5 18th hole here on Sunday to edge defending champion Brooke Henderson and win the Women’s PGA Championship, making her first LPGA triumph a major victory.
Kang, who never managed a top-10 finish in 30 prior major starts, fired a three-under par 68 to finish 72 holes on 13-under 271, edging Canadian teen star Henderson by one stroke.She was the first winner since Meg Mallon in 1991 to birdie the last hole for the triumph.
South Koreans took the next four spots with Chella Choi third on 274 after a closing 71. Lee Mi-Hyang, Amy Yang and Kim Sei-Young shared fourth on 275 with South Korean Park In-Bee and American Lexi Thompson sharing seventh on 277.
Kang, a 24-year-old from San Francisco, is a two-time US Women’s Amateur champion whose best prior LPGA finish had been a third-place effort in 2013. Her best major showing had been a share of 14th at the 2012 US Women’s Open.
After a birdie at the par-4 second, Kang took a bogey at the third, then began the back nine with another bogey.But from there she ran off four birdies in a row starting at the par-4 11th to seize a three-stroke lead on 13-under.
Henderson, a 19-year-old coming off a victory two weeks ago at the Meijer LPGA Classic, birdied the par-5 first and par-3 fourth and seventh holes to reach 10-under, then stayed steady with nine consecutive birdies.
Three down with two holes to play, Henderson closed with back-to-back birdies at the par-3 17th and had an eagle putt stop rolling just short of the cup at 18 to finish on 272.Kang, meanwhile, took a bogey at 17 to fall back into a tie for the lead, only to finish with a birdie to claim her long-sought first title after playing her first LPGA event in 2011.
Choi, also seeking her first major crown, fired a 71 but could not join the title fight at the finish.The 26-year-old from Daegu won her only LPGA crown at the 2015 Marathon Classic. Her best prior finish in any major was a share of fifth at this event in 2013.