Amy Yang of South Korea posted a 6-under 66 in her final round to win the CME Group Tour Championship on Sunday in Naples, Florida.
Yang, 34, had not won on the LPGA Tour since February 2019 and missed significant time with a tennis elbow injury that happened while rock climbing.
That didn’t hold her back in the final round as she earned the tournament’s $2mn first prize, the largest paycheck on tour.
Yang shot 27-under 261 for the week at Tiburon Golf Club to outpace Alison Lee and Japan’s Nasa Hataoka by three strokes. Lee also shot 66 on Sunday and Hataoka settled for a 69.
“You know, I still can’t believe I did it,” Yang said. “So great to have – and feeling honoured to have – my first win in the US, especially CME Group Tour Championship.”
Lilia Vu finished a distant fourth at 21 under, but her final-round 65 was enough for her to secure the Rolex Player of the Year Award. Vu, who also owns the No. 1 world ranking, won four tournaments this year, including two major championships.
Vu, who is notoriously hard on herself, said she still was self-critical this season, “but much nicer.”
“Just kept my goals really small, and I think that really helped me achieve Player of the Year,” the 26-year-old from California said.
“Honestly, I don’t think I thought much about it today. I just was trying to play my best out there.
“Probably have more time to reflect tonight and figure out what it means to me.
“I mean, I went to the Rolex dinner on Thursday and Annika (Sorenstam) is an eight-time Player of the Year and I thought it was just amazing to be up there with her.”
The highlight of Yang’s round was an eagle 2 from the fairway at the par-4 13th hole.
“That hole, I had about 80 yards to the pin, and it was helping down a little,” Yang said. “Had a 58 wedge in my hand and I played about 75, just a little off. It went straight to the pin and I saw it land really close to the pin. I had just a quick feeling that, ‘Oh, this might go in.’ And was just so excited to see it went in.”
That brought Yang to 25 under for the tournament, where she was safe from the rest of the field before finishing with two of her five birdies at Nos. 17 and 18.
Lee did not record a bogey either Saturday or Sunday and birdied six holes in her final round, but it wasn’t enough to keep up with Yang. Lee finished second for her third straight LPGA start.
“I feel like I put up a good fight today,” Lee said. “Did everything I could to put some pressure on (Yang and Hataoka). Amy had a phenomenal round. Once she made her eagle on 13 I think, I mean, I think that really turned the course of the whole entire day for her.
“She just played so unbelievable and played super solid and it was really tough to catch. I feel like I tried my best to put some birdies on the board, put some pressure on them, but she just played way too good. Definitely hurts a little bit.”
Atthaya Thitikul of Thailand shot a bogey-free 66 and finished fifth at 20 under. She won the Vare Trophy for the season’s lowest scoring average at 69.533.
Ruoning Yin (69) and Xiyu Lin (70), both of China, tied for sixth at 19 under. Nelly Korda (68) and Australia’s Minjee Lee (70) tied for eighth at 18 under.
US PGA Tour RSM Classic scoresMiami: Leading final-round scores in the PGA Tour RSM Classic at St. Simons Island, Georgia (USA unless noted):253 - Ludvig Aberg (SWE) 67-64-61-61
257 - Mackenzie Hughes (CAN) 68-66-60-63
260 - Tyler Duncan 68-65-62-65, Eric Cole 66-66-61-67
263 - Adam Svensson (CAN) 68-66-67-62, Ben Kohles 66-67-67-63, Denny McCarthy 65-67-66-65
264 - Taylor Montgomery 69-65-67-63, Ben Griffin 67-67-69-61, Austin Eckroat 65-68-66-65, Ryan Moore 70-67-62-65, Greyson Sigg 66-68-64-66
265 - J.J. Spaun 68-70-64-63, Russell Henley 72-66-65-62, Charley Hoffman 68-70-62-65, Peter Kuest 67-66-66-66, Vince Whaley 66-69-64-66, Sam Ryder 67-65-65-68
Amy Yang of Korea looks on during the trophy ceremony after winning the CME Group Tour Championship at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Florida. (AFP)