ADELAIDE: Japan’s Haru Nomura fired a closing seven-under par 65 to deny defending champion and world number one Lydia Ko and win the LPGA-sanctioned Australian Open at The Grange in Adelaide on Sunday.
Nomura, 23, holed eight birdies in the final round having started the day in a three-way share of the lead at nine-under.
The Japanese player closed the door on Ko’s chances with a monster 15-metre birdie putt at the 17th when she was three shots ahead of the New Zealand ace.
It allowed Nomura the luxury of her only bogey at the par-four 18th when she found the front-right sand trap and failed to get up and down.
It was the 67th-ranked Nomura’s first LPGA win after five seasons on the tour in America without drawing much attention.
“There was no pressure,” Nomura said. “Golf is the fight of my own.
“It’s not against someone else, even though someone else plays well. If I hit my goals, then I win.”
Nomura clinched victory with a run of three consecutive birdies at the 15th, 16th and 17th holes that the top-ranked Ko could not match.
Ko finished alone in second place at 13-under par after finishing with a five-under par 67.
“I played really well but Haru just played even better,” Ko said.
“By the roars I could hear, it seems like she was holing a lot of putts. When another player does that, it’s really out of my hands.”
Australia’s five-time Australian Open winner Karrie Webb was third at nine-under, having joined the lead early in the round with three birdies before faltering.
Nomura had just 26 putts. “The putter… Wow… Unbelievable,” she said.
Nomura is the first Japanese winner of the tournament since 1974, when Chako Higuchi won at the Victoria course.
American Danielle Kang and South Korean Jenny Shin had shared the overnight lead with Nomura but fell away on the final day. Kang’s closing 73 saw her finish in a tie for fourth on eight-under 280, while Shin was joint ninth a stroke further back after a 74.