A BRILLIANT eagle-birdie finish has handed South Korea’s Ha Na Jang the ISPS Handa Australian Open Title in Adelaide, South Australia.
Canada’s Maude-Aimee Leblanc finished in a tie for seventh at 5-under – her first ever top 10 finish in an LPGA tournament.
Ontario’s Alena Sharp finished in a tie for 16th on 3-under while World No.8 Brooke Henderson was a stroke further back in a tie for 21st.
Long-hitting Leblanc was in contention for much of the tournament before shooting a 2-over 75 in windy conditions in the final round at Royal Adelaide.
“If you told me top 10 at the beginning of the week of course I would have said I’d take it but I wasn’t that far behind the lead after the first two rounds,” the 28-year-old from Sherbrooke, Quebec said.
“I didn’t strike the ball as well today and when it’s this windy you can’t afford to do that.“
Leblanc will head to Florida this week and have three weeks to prepare for her next LPGA assignment, the Bank of Hope Founders Cup in Phoenix, Arizona, from March 16-19.
She said work on her game during the off-season had already begun to pay dividends.
“I changed my mindset and I feel a lot more confident out here and I’ve changed something with my putting also,” the World No. 208 said.
“I think the best is to come.”
Sharp also finished with a 2-over 75, which included six bogeys and four birdies.
“I was thinking I was close when I made a birdie on 14 but then I didn’t do anything coming in but it was cool to be in that position,” she said.
“Obviously coming home bogeying 18 the last two days doesn’t sit well with me walking off the course but I’m really happy how I’m playing and really looking forward to the next two weeks.
“This was a great week – it’s not an easy golf course, especially the last two days with the conditions. I don’t think we’ll play in wind like this until Palm Springs so it was nice to play well in the wind.”
Sharp and Henderson will tee it up at the Honda LPGA Thailand event at Siam Country Club next week.
Henderson is hoping for a stronger showing after almost missing the cut at Royal Adelaide with a 4-over 77 in the second round.
The 19-year-old said she was not too far away from being back in good form following a 2-under 71 today.
“All week I feel like my game was really close to being really good,” she said.
“I just made some dumb mistakes here and there, so hopefully as we work the next couple of days before Thailand starts, just try and fix a few little things and then hopefully I’ll perform a little bit better on the weekend.”
Jang started the day four shots off the pace at -6 but rolled in an eagle and three birdies in her final six holes to finish on 10-under, three shots clear of Danish qualifier Nanna Madsen.
Four players tied for third on -6 including World No.2 Ariya Jutanugarn and defending champion Haru Nomura from Japan.
Overnight leader Lizette Salas shot a 5-over 78 to finish in a tie for 7th.
Going into the tournament ranked No.6 in the world, Jang started her final round with a bogey on the first hole before playing the back nine in 31, 5-under par, sinking a four-foot birdie putt on the 18th to seal the win.
/ Andrew Spence – South Australia, South Australia Lead (Special to Flagstick.com)