On her major debut and playing for the first time in competition outside her native Japan, Hinako Shibuno has become the 2019 AIG Women’s British Open Champion.
On her major debut and playing for the first time in competiton outside her native Japan, 20-year-old Hinako Shibuno has become the 2019 AIG Women’s British Open Champion at Woburn Golf Club.
With opening rounds of 66, 69 and 67, Shibuno began the final round two shots clear of South African Ashleigh Bunai, but a one-over-par front nine allowed the chasing pack, including Lizette Salas, Bunai, Morgan Pressel and Jin Young Ko, to close in for a thrilling afternoon’s golf down the final stretch which became a five-horse race.
Lizette Salas made the biggest charge on her way to a 7-under-par 65. Playing the 18th hole, Salas was sharing the top spot on the leaderboard with Shibuno on 16-under-par, but a heartbreaking missed birdie putt deprived her of the outright lead, which she had held previously during the round.
“I told myself, ‘You got this and you are made for this.’ I put a good stroke on it. I’m not going to lie, I was nervous and I haven’t been in that position in a long time. I gave it a good stroke, I controlled all of my thoughts and it just didn’t drop," said the 30-year-old American.
As Salas prepared for what she hoped might be a play-off and a chance of winning her first major title, Shibuno hit a sizzling iron shot into the 18th green and rammed in a 18ft putt for birdie to win the title and a cheque for 610,443.00 Euros.
Shibuno, known as the ‘Smiling Cinderella’, high fived the gallery throughout her rouund on the Marquess course and she was even giggling with her caddie before she hit her important second shot into the 18th green. This young lady has captured the golfing world’s heart by her free-spirited demeanour and infectious smile - long may it continue.
It was a disappointing day for the British duo, Charley Hull and Bronte Law, who started the day in contention, but they posted scores of 4 and 6-over-par respectively.
Images: Getty Images
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