Women's Australian Open Golf, day four
Jiyai Shin in action during the final round of the Women's Australian Open Golf at Royal Canberra, Yarralumla. Photo: Melissa Adams
Most Australians were barracking for a Lydia Ko win at Royal Canberra yesterday, despite Jiyai Shin's love of meat pies, kangaroos and saying ''G'day mate''.
And while Shin outpointed the 15-year-old prodigy to win the Australian Open, few could begrudge the bubbly Korean her success.
An audacious chip-in for birdie from behind a sponsor's sign on the 14th green helped Shin survive a spirited late rally from world No. 1 Yani Tseng.
Jiyai Shin with the Women's Australian Open trophy. Photo: Melissa Adams
Boasting a six-stroke lead over nearest rival Beatriz Recari at the start of the day, most pundits tipped Sunday to be a Shin-Ko matchplay contest.
But Tseng (seven-under 66) showed why she's the world's best women's golfer with a brilliant challenge.
Rated a $41 chance when down by eight strokes after three rounds, Tseng (16-under) moved to within two strokes late in the day, but a poor approach on the par-five final hole ended her hopes.
Ko was the only player in the top 14 on the leaderboard not to shoot under par in good conditions on Sunday.
The 15-year-old began nervously when she sprayed her drive off the first way left into the shrubbery, and her second shot hit a tree.
She eventually signed off on double bogey, while Shin made birdie.
While she fought back to regain the joint lead when she birdied the 12th and Shin made bogey, Ko ran out of steam down the stretch.
Shin hit a brilliant eagle on the sixth on Saturday after chipping in from the bunker, but she said her shot on 14 on Sunday was one of the best of her career.
"I think so, yes,'' she said. "I think today this chip shot is most important of this tournament.
"Before I chip it in my play was a little bit tough.
''But after I chip it in finally I get more relaxed, and enjoyed the other few holes.''
Ko has been the highlight act this week following her outstanding 10-under 63 on Thursday.
However, the ever-smiling and endearing Shin would be a close second. If anyone was to beat Ko, the diminutive world No. 8 would be the punters' elect.
"In Australia I always feel comfortable and have a lot of fans here, I enjoy the meat pie and watching the kangaroos,'' Shin said.
"My [fitness] trainer is an Australian guy, and I learn how to say 'G'day mate'.
"Today we play with big pressure, so it was impressive watching her [Ko] play.
"She's growing up now, I think she's taller than me now.''
The win was sweet relief for Shin who finished runner-up to Karrie Webb and Tseng respectively at the 2008 and 2011 Opens.
She also reversed last year's Canadian Open result, where Ko outpointed her to become the youngest LPGA Tour winner.
"I really enjoyed playing with Lydia,'' Sin said. "She was still impressive with her play, she hit it great and her putting was also great.''
While disappointed not to back up her New Zealand Open win in her homeland last week, Ko learned plenty about withstanding the Sunday back-nine blowtorch.
"I had a few struggles with my drives, but I can't play good every single round,'' she said.
"I came third, third on a professional tour is still a pretty good result.
"Today I realised that after a bad hole it kind of carried into the next hole.
"You see Jiyai Shin, it didn't matter what she did on one hole, the next hole was pretty fresh,'' Ko said.