Sweden's Anna Nordqvist claimed her fourth LPGA Tour victory after carding a 5-under 67 in the final round of the Kia Classic in California, to top American Lizette Salas by one shot.
Nordqvist started two shots off the lead on Sunday and finished with six birdies and a bogey on the par 5 17th hole to top American Lizette Salas by one shot. The Swede shot a first-round 73 on Thursday and was in a tie for 53rd after 18 holes. But the 27-year old shot back-to-back 67’s on the weekend to close.
“I’m very excited,” said Nordqvist. “Just still can’t believe it. I was a couple shots back going into today and just told myself to give it a shot. I ended up making quite a bit of birdies out there. So obviously very happy and excited I’ve had two wins this season.”
It was Nordqvist’s second win in her four starts this season and joins Karrie Webb as the only two-time winners in 2014. After her win in Thailand last month, the Arizona State product said she was close to stepping away from the game in the off season.
“I was pretty disappointed after last year, not going to lie,” said Nordqvist. “Felt like I played pretty good, but I knew I had to do a couple changes to play even better. It’s just great sitting here now. I’m proud of myself for taking some hard decisions. You know, I worked extremely hard this off-season. They had to drag me off the range.”
Nordqvist changed swing coaches, clubs and apparel company leading into the 2014 season and the tough decisions have seemed to be paying off.
“You know, I think the decision was just it was either I was going to keep working on the it or just, you know, keep practicing or playing like I had been,” said Nordqvist. “But I think I really set my mind up because I wanted to be in contention and win tournaments.”
Nordqvist got started with a five-foot birdie on her first hole and picked up two more before making the turn on Nos. 8 and 9. She extended her lead to two shots with another birdie on the par 4 13th hole and to three shots on No. 14 – both with short putts.
Lexi Thompson made a run finishing the final round with birdies on four of her last six holes to get to 11-under par. She finished in solo third at 11-under par.
“I actually didn’t think about a number going in,” said Thompson. “I obviously knew I had to get to double-digits. I had to take one shot at a time and play the way I did the last three days. Pretty solid.”
Nordqvist was in the second to last group of the day and closed with a two-foot par putt to stay at 13-under.
“Yeah, my hands were definitely shaking,” said Nordqvist of the final putt. “I knew if I could get that one in I was going to be in a good position. You never know. The greens are a little bit bumpy. And with the sun setting a little bit you seem to see every footprint and spike mark. I tried not this focus on that and just see the hole.”
Third-round leader Lizette Salas played in the final group with fellow American Cristie Kerr and approached the 18th hole two shots behind Nordqvist. The Azusa, Calif. native sank a seven-foot birdie putt on the final hole, but it was too little too late.
“It feels good to have that finish after nine straight pars,” said Lizette. “I mean, all pars in the front. Just not getting it close and not striking the ball as well as the first three days…I hit the ball great off the tee today. The putts just wouldn’t roll in.”