Sep
20
2009
The Asians Continue to Dominate
By Stephanie Wei under General

South Korea’s Na Yeon Choi bested Japan’s Ai Miyazato by one stroke to win the Samsung Championship at Torrey Pines.

Choi began the round with a 7-stroke lead, but made several mistakes around the greens, which included missing a 2-foot putt (yip!) on the 9th. At one point on the back nine, Miyazato took the lead as Choi’s putter continued to falter. But, she regrouped and drained a 5-footer on the 18th for birdie and her first victory on the LPGA.

She admitted to her bad thoughts on the course: “Mentally I felt I was very weak. I kept telling myself to be positive. I wanted to be positive about everything.”

Despite being the top-ranked player in the world, Lorena Ochoa hasn’t been playing like it. She showed signs of rejuvenation with a T4 finish.

The Samsung Championship is one of the most prestigious tournaments on the Tour’s schedule and some consider it the “fifth major.” The field consists of 20 of the top players in the world and is invitation-only. Asian-born players finished 1-2-3 — Jiyai Shin placed third with a four-day total of 11-under, 5 behind Choi. It appeared “blaming the Asians” for the Tour’s troubles has subsided since the ousting of former Commissioner Carolyn Bivens and the strong showing by the US in the Solheim Cup.

But will the same ol’ discussion return with Asian names continuing to command the top of the leaderboard again? Perhaps people are just getting used to it (let’s be real, probably not the case). Well, no one seemed bothered when Shin won last week. Then again, she’s become a recognized name, not to mention has endeared herself to fans. And, she speaks English pretty well.

Anyway, congrats to Na Yeon Choi!

[Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images]