Sweden's Anna Nordqvist fired a final round 4-under 68 at the LPGA Tour's Bank of Hope Founders Cup on Sunday to hold off three fellow major winners and capture her first LPGA title of 2017.
This was in record 96-degree heat at Desert Ridge in Arizona where her closing 4-under 68 and standout 25-under 263 total gave her a two-shot victory over Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn (68), South Korean Chun In-Gee (66) and Stacy Lewis of the US (68).
Nordqvist's 25-uder total came within two strokes of the LPGA record of 27-under set in 2001 by fellow Swede Annika Sorenstam and matched last year by Kim Sei-Young. All three rounds were crafted in Phoenix.
Nordqvist's remarkable victory, which, over four days, saw the 29-year-old post an eagle and 26 birdies while giving away only three bogies, brought the six-footer her 7th LPGA Tour title, her 9th worldwide and her first since her successful defence of the ShopRite LPGA Classic last June.
It also helped wipe away her bad memories of the US Women's Open in July, where she lost a three-hole playoff to the US's Brittany Lang after being penalised two strokes for touching the sand with her club in a fairway bunker on the second extra hole.
"Of all my wins this is probably one of the ones that are going to be more special," said Nordqvist, who, as an amateur, played US college golf at the nearby Arizona State University.
"If it wouldn't be for me getting an opportunity to come to Arizona State about ten years ago, I wouldn't be here today," she insisted. "This truly still feels like home, even though I'm based in Florida.
"I have so many friends and family here. They feel like family, my US family. I couldn't think of a better place to be. I'm just so happy to be back.
"I wasn't even going to play here a couple weeks ago and just ended up adding it at the last minute. Maybe it was meant to be."
Nordqvist's tournament-record 61 on Saturday took her into a two-stroke lead in the final round and although reigning Women's British Open champion Jutanugarn, former US Women's Open champion Chun, and 2011 ANA Inspiration winner Lewis all tried valiantly to catch her, no one more so than Chun who picked up six birdies in her bogey-free final round of 66, none could.
Nordqvist's 25-foot birdie putt at 17 made for a relaxed and dignified victory march down the 18th fairway that even a bogey would not have prevented.
New Zealand's World number one Lydia Ko carded a 68 to finish with a bogey-free 20-under in joint 8th place while willowy Michelle Wie, a strong contender for the first two days, closed with rounds of 72 and 70 and that dumped her back to 35th.
LEADING FINAL SCORES
263 Anna Nordqvist (SWE) 67 67 61 68
265 Chun In Gee (KOR) 64 69 66 66, Ariya Jutanugarn (THA) 64 67 66 68, Stacy Lewis (USA 64 67 66 68
267 Jang Ha Na (KOR) 67 68 69 63, Park Inbee (KOR) 67 66 67 67, Ryu So Yeon (KOR) 69 65 64 69
268 Moriya Jutanugarn (THA) 69 69 67 63, Lydia Ko (NZL) 68 69 63 68
269 Lizette Salas (USA 71 66 66 66, Jessica Korda (USA 67 66 70 66, Caroline Masson (GER) 68 66 67 68
270 Brooke M. Henderson (CAN) 69 67 69 65, Yoo Sun Young (KOR) 68 68 68 66, Lee Mi Rim (KOR) 70 65 67 68, Sandra Gal (GER) 66 69 67 68, Karine Icher 68 65 68 69, Park Sung Hyun (KOR) 67 66 68 69.
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