Survival Of The Fittest

The Ricoh Women’s British Open proved to be a pure test of will against the elements of nasty weather on the western coast of England at Royal Liverpool Golf Club.   Winds gusting to 50 m.p.h. forced cancellation of the second round of the year’s final major on Friday and set the table for a grueling  36 hole finish on Sunday for the championship.  The weather for the morning 18 was good, but during the lunch break a meteorological hell broke loose and the final 18 would turn umbrellas inside-out and make finding fairways and greens a very stern task.

Jiyai Shin shot 64-71 on Saturday and Sunday morning to take a commanding lead at 10 under going into the final loop.  With a triple bogey on the first hole in the final round it looked like it could be anybody’s ball game.  But all the chasers were having their own lorry wrecks as the sideways rain and the gusting winds wreaked havoc on their scorecards.  Continuing her fabulous play the last two weeks, Shin settled down and played steady golf in weather that could have parted the Red Sea.  She made five birdies over the next 17 holes to post 9-under and win the championship rowing away.

Shin won this same major at Sunningdale in 2008 as a 21 year-old LPGA rookie.  She is currently the hottest player on the LPGA Tour.   Between her 9-playoff hole win at Kingsmill last week and this performance at the British she is 25 under par the last two weeks on tour.  Shin is no stranger to the winner’s circle having 10 wins on the LPGA Tour and 38 tournament wins world wide.

The young 15-year amateur phenom Lydia Ko from New Zealand continued to impress the professionals winning low amateur in this major to go along with the same honor she earned in the U.S. Women’s Open.  With her performance this week Ko, who won the Canadian Open a few weeks ago against a very strong field, showed she has the mettle to perform in the most challenging conditions.

This win perpetuates the dominating trend of Asian born players on the LPGA circuit.  Women from the Pacific Rim have won all four majors this year and the last seven going back to 2011.  South Korea’s Sun Young Yoo won the Kraft-Nabisco, China’s Shanshan Feng the LPGA Championship, and South Korea’s Na Yeon Choi the U.S. Women’s Open in 2012.

Watching her poise in the adverse conditions faced at Royal Liverpool today had a Darwinian feel to it and speaks volumes to Shin’s resolve to become the next force in women’s golf.   Another win before the season ending CME Group Titleholders and Jiyai Shin could be challenging Yani Tseng for that Rolex #1.

September, 2012

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