Defending champion Feng shoots 68 to win Japan Classic

AP
Feng became the first golfer on the LPGA Tour to defend a title in 2017 and claimed her second victory of the year, having captured the LPGA Volvik Championship in May.
AP
AFP

Feng Shanshan of China poses with the trophy after winning the LPGA Japan Classic in Omitama, Ibaraki prefecture, on November 5, 2017. Feng carded a final-round 4-under 68 to defend her crown and take her eighth LPGA title with a two-stroke victory over Ai Suzuki of Japan.

Defending champion Feng Shanshan of China fired a 4-under 68 on Sunday to win the LPGA Tour's Japan Classic by two strokes.

Feng recovered from two bogeys on the first three holes with six birdies to finish at 19-under 197 at the Taiheyo Club's Minori Course in Ibaraki, two shots ahead of Japan's Ai Suzuki, who also shot a 68.

Feng became the first golfer on the LPGA Tour to defend a title in 2017 and claimed her second victory of the year, having captured the LPGA Volvik Championship in May. It was also her eighth LPGA title.

"That was my goal, before I started the week, to defend my title," said Feng. "My caddie told me: 'This week, you're going to be first. Two weeks ago, you finished third. Last week, you finished second, so you know what comes after that. first.' I was like, OK, let's go for it."

Suzuki had a chance to overtake Feng through the back nine, but any time Suzuki made a birdie, it seemed as though Feng would answer with one of her own. She couldn't capitalize on opportunities late in the round, and a final-hole bogey sealed the win for Feng.

"Her ball striking is so good. She left herself so many birdie chances and I was freaked out," Feng said of Suzuki. "Before I started the round, I told myself to not look at the other scores and just go to 21-under par. I played very well."

Sweden's Anna Nordqvist had a hole-in-one on the par-3 third hole and added five birdies against a lone bogey for a 66 to finish in third place at 15-under 201.

American Lizette Salas was fourth after finishing with a 68.

Former World No. 1 Lydia Ko of New Zealand was among a group of seven golfers tied for fifth place after firing a 68 that included five birdies and a bogey on the final hole.

No. 1 ranking

Meanwhile, Park Sung-hyun is projected to take over the women's world No. 1 ranking after fellow South Korean Ryu So-yeon finished equal 33rd at the Japan Classic on Sunday.

US Women's Open champion Park did not play the LPGA event, but Ryu had to finish no worse than sixth to stay in top spot, according to the projection.

"I didn't know that," Ryu said outside the scoring tent at the Taiheiyo Club, when told she had surrendered the No. 1 ranking.

"I don't really care about it. It's just a title. It's great to be No. 1 of course but the more important thing is how I'm playing for the present.

"I more care (about that) than my ranking."

Ryu, 27, was delighted to become No. 1 back in June, but admitted to eventually feeling the pressure of the lofty position.

"Because of No. 1, a lot of expectations levels went up high but right now I want to win a tournament more than keep my position," she said.

Rye battled a sore right shoulder throughout the Japan Classic, constantly rubbing it after hitting a shot.

"It was a struggle to play three rounds," she said.

Ryu is having a week off, and said she might see a doctor in the next few days to have the injury diagnosed.

She burst onto the international scene by winning the 2011 US Women's Open, and captured another major this year at the ANA Inspiration.

She went to No. 1 by winning the NW Arkansas Championship in late June, but has not had a victory since.


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