By TOM CANAVAN
AP Sports Writer
SPRINGFIELD, N.J. (AP) — Ruoning Yin made a birdie putt from about 10 feet on the final hole and became the second woman from China to win a major, beating Yuka Saso by one shot in the Women’s PGA Championship on Sunday.
After Saso made birdie ahead of her on the par-5 18th hole at Baltusrol to move into a tie for the lead, Yin found the rough with her tee shot, then hit her third shot into an ideal spot and curled in the right-to-left breaking putt, pumping her fist after it dropped.
The 20-year-old Yin closed with a 4-under 67, finished at 8-under 276 and joined Shanshan Feng, who won this event – then known as the LPGA Championship – in 2012 as Chinese winners of women’s majors. Feng is currently the Chinese national team coach.
“For the last couple days, my ball-striking was perfect,” Yin said. “I only missed, I think, six greens in four days. I think my ball-striking was pretty good. Before today’s round, I just told my physio that my goal for today, just no three-putt. I don’t care if I’m winning or not, just no three-putt. I did it, too.”
Rose Zhang, who won in her professional debut three weeks ago, also in New Jersey, made a charge with a final-round 67 and finished in a tie for eighth, three shots back.
Saso, the U.S. Women’s Open champion in 2021, shot 66. The championship had a mid-round delay of nearly two hours because of severe weather.
Saso thought she had blown her chance to win when she missed a 10-foot birdie attempt to tie the lead at No. 17. She got up-and-down from a greenside bunker to birdie the final hole.
“After missing the birdie on 17, I just wished that I wouldn’t hit my drive in the water on 18,” she said. “But glad I didn’t. Hit a good shot, and the second shot hit it in the left bunker. It was not an easy bunker shot, but it was manageable, and I was able to manage it pretty good.”
Xiyu Lin, who either led or shared the lead during most of her back nine, found the water with her drive on the 18th and made bogey to shoot 67 and finish two shots back alongside Carlota Ciganda (64), Anna Nordqvist (65), Megan Khang (67) and Stephanie Meadow (70).
“Unfortunately I didn’t hit a good tee shot on the last hole,” said the 27-year- old Lin, who is winless on the LPGA Tour but came in ranked No. 14 in the world. “But it could have happened any other hole. I think overall I gave myself good chances. It’s still a really good Sunday to have a lot to take away from.”
Leona Maguire, who won last week and led after the second and third rounds, shot 74, ending a run of eight straight rounds in the 60s. Seeking to become the first woman from Ireland to win a major, she finished four shots back. Maguire did not speak to the media.
Baltusrol yielded only 16 rounds under par on Thursday, but with the course softened by rain, 35 players broke par in the final round, including tournament- low rounds of 64 from Ciganda and Perrine Delacour. No one had shot better than 66 before Sunday.
Zhang, who turned pro after winning her second straight NCAA individual title, started the round at 1 under and got to 6 under at No. 11 with her fifth birdie of the round. She never got closer, sandwiching bogeys at Nos. 13 and 16 with a birdie at 14. She hit her tee shot into the water on the last hole and salvaged par.
“It’s really cool to see that my game is there, and I just have to work a little extra harder to play better,” the 20-year-old said.
The next event on the LPGA Tour is another major, the U.S. Women’s Open at Pebble Beach from July 6-9.