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Brent Kelley

Shin Holds Off Ko and Tseng to Win LPGA Opener

By February 17, 2013

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The 2013 LPGA season opened in Australia, and Jiyai Shin is the first winner of the new year.

Shin outlasted 15-year-old amateur Lydia Ko, and withstood a challenge from world No. 1 Yani Tseng, to win the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open (cosantioned by the LET and ALPG). It is the 11th LPGA victory for Shin.

And if this is an indication of what's to come, then it will be a fun season on the LPGA Tour in 2013. Tseng and Shin are, when they are healthy and playing at their best, the two best players in women's golf.

For Ko, third place might have been a little bit of a disappointment. Which is a strange thing to say about a 15-year-old amateur, but Ko was coming off a win at the previous week's New Zealand Open, going for the ANZ double.

There were some interesting comments from Ko and the Ko camp during the week about her future - as in, when she might turn pro. In the past, Ko has been adamant that she'll remain an amateur and spend at least a couple years at an American university.

And after the Women's Australian Open final round, Ko said, "I've got a couple of years until I turn pro so I guess within that period hopefully I'll be able to get a little bit better."

First, if Ko gets any better she'll be truly scary. Second, "a couple of years" til she turns pro was probably just an off-the-cuff remark, but could also indicate Ko is thinking of going pro when she completes high school.

Earlier in the week, Ko's coach suggested she might turn pro as soon as next year. "Realistically she's probably going to look to turn pro next year," Guy Wilson told TV New Zealand, "only because the opportunities now are pretty obvious." "Opportunities" = money.

Shin and Ko started the final round tied, with Tseng six strokes behind. Ko began double bogey/bogey, but by the 14th hole Shin and Ko were tied again. But on that hole, Ko bogied while Shin holed out a pitch shot for birdie. Tseng, meanwhile, got herself into the mix with the best round of the day, a 66. Tseng wound up in second with Ko third.

Reigning LPGA Player of the Year Stacy Lewis came 15th. Cheyenne Woods was 72nd, while Michelle Wie missed the cut.

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