Posted September. 15, 2009 07:40,
Shin Ji-yai, 21, is developing into a final round queen.
At yesterdays P&G Beauty NW Arkansas Championship in Rogers, Arkansas, she entered the third and final round trailing seven shots behind the leader. She then sank seven birdies with no bogeys to force a sudden-death playoff and went on to win her third title of the LPGA season.
○ Aiming for the rookie record
Shin is leading the LPGA in wins and prize money and is the favorite to win LPGA rookie and player of the year honors. Her three wins this season is one better than second-place Lorena Ochoa of Mexico.
By earning 1.49 million U.S. dollars in prize money this season, Shin is also the leader in the category ahead of Cristie Kerr of the U.S. (1.37 million dollars).
With 1,269 points, Shin has widened her sizable lead over Michelle Wie (684 points) in the rookie standings.
Nancy Lopez of the U.S. is the only player in LPGA history to win four titles as a rookie in 1978. Shin could break that longstanding record, something that even Annika Sorenstam or Pak Se-ri failed to attain.
Ive been given a chance and I will aim high since I have only a few championships left, Shin said.
○ Sudden-death playoff
Shin waited for more than two hours after finishing the third round of the Arkansas championship. I eased my hunger. Since there was a chance of being in a playoff, I ate soup and a potato snack that were easy to digest before beginning practice.
In the playoff, she said she felt uneasy over playing Angela Stanford of the U.S. and Yoo Sun-young, both of whom are long shot specialists. Yoos drive travels an average of 256.8 yards (34th in the LPGA) while Stanfords goes 263.5 yards (11th). In comparison, Shin hits 248 yards (91st).
In the first playoff hole that began on the 18th (par five), Shin birdied with a high precision short game but Yoo and Stanford birdied as well.
In the second playoff hole on the 15th (par three), Shin was the only one to birdie with a tee shot using her No. 7 iron. She sank a 12-foot shot to seal her victory.
○ Final round queen
Shin came from behind in eight of her 19 wins on the Korean tour, once rallying from a seven-shot at the Crown CC Open in 2007. She is showcasing her ability to rally on the LPGA Tour this season.
When she won her seasons first title at the HSBC Womens Champions in March, she rallied from six shots behind.
As I build up experience in winning, I try to direct the trend of plays toward my advantage, she said.
Shin also said her motto is to never believe in losing, and this perhaps explains why she stays cool despite any crisis.
Karrie Webb of Australia lost to Shin at the ADT Championship last year, after which Webb said, Shin never gets nervous under any circumstance. She even smiled, which overwhelmed me.