Jang clinches first LPGA win and ends 'heartbreaking' run

Sat Feb 6, 2016 10:44pm EST
 
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(Reuters) - South Korean Jang Ha-na overcame waterlogged conditions and a marathon final day to clinch her first LPGA victory, a two-shot triumph at the Coates Golf Championship in Ocala, Florida, on Saturday.

An emotional Jang burst into tears after rolling in a birdie at the par-five 18th at the Golden Ocala Golf and Equestrian Club to finally close the deal after four runner-up finishes last year.

Jang admitted after that her inability to break through had been "heartbreaking" as she had watched so many of her Korean friends win LPGA events.

"It’s been affecting me the way I play because they’re competitors and they’re good friends," the 23-year-old told reporters after hugging her Australian caddie Graham Courts and her father, among others, as tears streamed down her face.

"I put a lot of pressure on myself, but I worked very hard, so finally I got there and have the win. From now on, I’m going to be able to relax a little bit more, focus more on upcoming tournaments."

Jang did not make a birdie in the final round until the 16th, where her patience was rewarded when she rolled in a five-footer to edge ahead.

She carded 72 to finish at 11-under 277, two better than Canadian teenager Brooke Henderson (72) and three in front of world number one Lydia Ko (75), U.S. Women’s Open champion Chun In-gee (70) and South Korean, Kim Sei-young (71).

Jang had to play 30 holes after resuming her third round at the crack of dawn, and conditions deteriorated in the afternoon as steady rain left parts of the course under water, prompting staff to use leaf blowers to clear puddles from the greens.

And Jang's hopes seemed to have submerged when she three-putted the 14th hole, missing a three-footer after getting too aggressive with her first putt, but that was her final mistake.   Continued...