EVIAN-LES-BAINS, France – There’s a reason why Shin Ji-yai is dubbed by Korean media as the “final-round queen.” The 22-year-old South Korean lived up to her nickname at the Evian Masters on Sunday with another dramatic last-day victory charge.
Shin snared a last-hole birdie for a one-shot win over Americans Morgan Pressel, Alexis Thompson and South Korea’s Na Yeon Choi.
Two strokes behind Pressel going into the last round, Shin made her move with birdies at the fourth, fifth and eighth holes for a front-nine 33. She tied Pressel for the lead after another birdie on 13. On 18, Shin was up first and sank a 6-foot birdie to put the pressure on Pressel.
Pressel had a slightly shorter, downhill putt. She dropped to her knees as it rolled over the hole but hugged Shin after.
“It was close. It looked like it was going in, and it just sneaked out,” Pressel said. “I hit a lot of good putts on the back nine. I had one birdie, and all I tried to do was hit aggressive putts and not leave them short.”
Shin, who shot a 5-under 67 Sunday for a 14-under 274 total, became the first South Korean to win the Evian Masters and earned $487,500. She has seven LPGA victories, including the 2008 Women’s British Open.
“I hope to be the first of many (South Korean winners),” she said. “I love this tournament, it is my favorite one and the place I like best, so I am really happy to have won it.”
Shin likely will reclaim the Rolex Rankings’ top spot. She held the No. 1 world ranking for seven weeks after Lorena Ochoa’s retirement earlier this season. Shin had an emergency appendectomy six weeks ago, and recently returned to competition.
“I have completely recovered because I don’t feel any more pain,” Shin said. “The break did me a lot of good because I needed to rest, to stay at home and watch others play.”
Fifteen-year-old Thompson nearly stole the show, shooting a 67 Sunday to press Shin – further adding speculation whether she will petition the LPGA for full-time status. Thompson is limited to six sponsor exemptions a year because she is younger than 18.
Suzann Pettersen (66) was fifth at 12-under 276. Defending champion Ai Miyazato (68) finished tied for 19th at 5-under 283.
England’s Melissa Reid, who shared a three-way tie for the lead after an opening 66 but slid back on the second day with a 77, completed the tournament tied for 19th.
Reid said: “I consider this the fifth major because it’s the strongest field we play all year. It’s good to see what I can play against and kind of shows a few things that I need to work on. It also shows that I’m not too far off, either.”
Ladies European Tour contributed to this report.