HOYLAKE, England – The domination is complete. Jiyai Shin’s runaway victory in the $2.5 million Ricoh Women’s British Open confirms what many had already suspected: Asian golfers now own the women’s game.
Shin returned a closing 1-over 73 in strong winds and persistent rain for a 72-hole total of 279 (9 under), and a nine-stroke victory over Inbee Park. Paula Creamer finished alone in third place at 1 over for the championship.
“It was a long, long, very tough day,” Shin said, who outlasted Creamer in a nine-hole playoff last week to win her first LPGA title since 2010.
“The weather was really tough but I just stayed focused on my shots. When I hit that last putt I was so excited.”
The victory is Shin’s second in a major championship. She won the 2008 Women’s British Open at Sunningdale. On that occasion she won just over $313,464. This time around she picks up a check for around $430,000. This is 10th career LPGA victory.
Shin’s second major win was far more impressive than her first. She was the only player to break par for the four rounds. Her margin of victory sets a record for the biggest win in championship history – the Women’s British Open became a major in 2001 – bettering Karen Stupples’ five shot win in 2004.
Shin’s second Women’s British Open victory is noteworthy not just for her impressive 9-shot victory, but because it establishes a first: Asian women have swept all four major titles this season, the first time that’s ever happened. In fact, Asian women have now won the last seven majors.
Stacy Lewis is the last non-Asian to win one of the four marquee events in the women’s game. She won the Kraft Nabisco Championship in 2011.
Asian golfers currently dominate the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. They hold eight of the top 10 positions. Lewis is second behind Yani Tseng, with Norway’s Suzann Pettersen is No. 6. Shin is No. 10 but will move up after this win.
Given this year’s majors and the world rankings, the pertinent question seems to be: Who will be the next non-Asian major winner? Indeed, with the Evian Masters becoming the fifth major next year, Asia’s dominance of the big events could deepen. No one would be surprised if all five next year fell into Asian hands.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Shin’s win was the way she handled the elements. Her victory might have been forged on a second-round, 8-under 64, a new women’s course record, but she held it together in the foul weather of the final round when others fell apart.
The strong winds and heavy rain wreaked havoc in the final round. Play had to be suspended for eight minutes at one point when balls were moving on the fifth green because of the gusts.
How bad were the conditions? This bad: “It’s the toughest conditions I’ve ever experienced,” Michelle Wie said. “I kind of felt like I was in a battle.” Wie closed with a 7-over 79 for an 8-over total of 296 to finish 13th.
Only two players in the final round matched par. Creamer and Lexi Thompson held that honor in a final round with an average score of 77.7.
Shin began the final round with a three-stroke advantage over Karrie Webb. A triple bogey at the first should have wiped out her advantage, but Webb began by doubling the first and making back-to-back bogeys at the next two.
Shin played the front nine in 2-over 37, but Webb was three shots worse. Shin’s three-shot lead suddenly turned into six heading into the back nine. Webb disappeared from contention when she double-bogeyed the par-4 14th. She eventually closed with a 10-over 82, 14 shots worse than her third round 68. She finished in fifth place.
Creamer’s level-par 72 moved her through the field after beginning the final round in 10th place.
Lydia Ko picked up the Smythe Salver as leading amateur. It’s the second major this year that the 15-year-old New Zealander has taken the top amateur prize. Ko, the leading player on the World Amateur Golf Ranking, finished with a 78 for a 9-over total of 297 to finish in 17th place. She bettered Great Britain & Ireland Curtis Cup stars Holly Clyburn and Bronte Law by three shots to take the amateur prize.