With a new caddie by her side, a nine-hole playoff win to kick off her week, and a triple-bogey to start her final round on a wet and cold day of marathon golf, Jiyai Shin made fans remember how the 24-year-old South Korean ascended to the top of women's golf back in 2010.
Shin, who arrived in England later than planned after beating Paula Creamer in an extended playoff at the Kingsmill Championship last Monday, lapped the Women’s British Open field by a record-breaking 9-under four-round total. Under horrid conditions in the weather-delayed last major of the season, Shin entered the final round of Sunday’s 36-hole finish with a three-stroke lead and ended by capturing her second Women’s British Open title and second win in consecutive weeks.
And that’s from a golfer who’s ranked 125th in driving distance on the LPGA Tour. But the five-foot, one-inch Shin makes up for her lack of length with pinpoint precision, as she is third in accuracy off the tee and fifth in greens in regulation. Her 11th-ranked putting average is a major component of her game as well.
The nine-time LPGA Tour winner credited her looper, Florian Rodriguez, who took her bag for the first time last week.
''I'm happy with my new work with my new caddie because he make me feel relaxed,'' Shin told reporters after weathering the storm at Royal Liverpool for her 36th career win. 'He's one year younger than me, but he like tried to be relaxed on the golf course and I really appreciate my caddie.''
Indeed, with scores in the stratosphere (Paula Creamer and Lexi Thompson were the only golfers at even-par in the finale), Shin maintained her composure -- even after that seven on the par-4 first hole of the final round.
"It was a really, really tough and long day,'' said Shin. ''So really hard to keep focused.”
Shin broke the event’s previous record for margin of victory by four strokes, which Karen Stupples set in 2004. She also overcame physical woes that had kept her out of competition for much of the past two seasons. A bad back benched her for part of 2011, while she missed two months this year after surgery on her left wrist.
With her victory, Shin made a clean sweep for Asian women in the season’s four majors. South Korea's Sun Young You won the Kraft Nabisco, Shanshan Feng of China topped the LPGA Championship, and Shin’s countrywoman Na Yeon Choi Na Yeon Choi nabbed the U.S. Women’s open.
Last week’s runner-up Creamer, who finished third on Sunday, sounded undaunted by her two-year losing streak, which she was unable to break last week in Williamsburg.
''I feel very close,'' said Creamer, who said her ball-striking was fine but that her putting could use some work. ''I'm going to take a couple weeks off and try and refresh. But I have to continue moving forward with everything that I'm doing because like I said, I feel really good about where I'm at. It's just a couple things here and there.''
Fans will likely remember this year’s tournament for its unusual voided second round. Fierce winds caused officials to cancel Friday’s outing and nullify the scores of 36 golfers who started the day in winds that gusted up to 60 m.p.h.
To avoid a Monday close, golfers played 36 holes on Sunday, though rain and wind delayed play briefly in the fourth round.
''It was like we were standing under a shower,'' Creamer said. ''That's the best way I can describe it. It was hard, my goodness gracious. I've always said Solheim in Sweden was one of the toughest conditions I've ever played in. I think this tops that, for sure.''
In other results, top amateur Lydia Ko, who won the Canadian Women’s Open three weeks ago, tied for 17th at 9-over. Top-ranked Yani Tseng, hoping for a three-peat in the tournament she won in 2010 and 2011, continued her 2012 struggles, finishing in a share of 26th.