Na Yeon Choi wins US Women’s Open

South Korea's Na Yeon Choi kisses the championship trophy after winning the U.S. Women's Open golf tournament Sunday, July 8, 2012, in Kohler, Wis.
Julie Jacobson | AP
South Korea's Na Yeon Choi kisses the championship trophy after winning the U.S. Women's Open golf tournament Sunday, July 8, 2012, in Kohler, Wis.
Posted July 08, 2012, at 9:36 p.m.

KOHLER, Wis. — Na Yeon Choi survived a triple bogey and a few more shaky moments on the back nine Sunday to win the U.S. Women’s Open at Blackwolf Run.

It’s the first major and sixth career LPGA Tour victory for the 24-year-old South Korean star, who came into the tournament ranked fifth in the world.

Choi shot a 1-over 73 on Sunday and finished at 7 under for a four-stroke victory. Fellow South Korean player Amy Yang had a 71 to finish second.

Choi came into Sunday with a six-stroke lead after shooting a 7-under 65 on Saturday. She got into trouble when she triple-bogeyed No. 10, but recovered to win at the same course where Se Ri Pak won South Korea’s first major title in 1998.

Pak was among a group of friends who met Choi after she putted out on the 18th green, showering her with hugs — and victory champagne.

Choi becomes the fourth South Korea player to win the event in the five years, following Inbee Park (2008), Eun-Hee Ji (2009) and So Yeon Ryu (2011).

Choi could afford to have one bad hole Sunday thanks in large part to her remarkable performance Saturday when she had matched the fifth-lowest single round in Open history.

Choi and Yang were the only players to finish the tournament under par.

Sandra Gal of Germany shot a 74 and finished 1 over for the tournament. Il Hee Lee of South Korea, Shanshan Feng of China and Italian Giulia Sergas finished 2 over.

Michelle Wie finished the tournament 10 over. After shooting a 66 on Friday to close with a stroke of the lead, she had weekend rounds of 78 and 80.

Top-ranked Yani Tseng finished 14 over, and still needs an Open victory to complete a career Grand Slam.

The afternoon belonged to Choi, who was even through the front nine, making bogey on No. 1 and making a birdie putt on No. 4.

Then she found trouble.

It started on the par-5 10th hole, when she put her tee shot way left into woods and deep rough. Choi was 8 under at that point — five strokes ahead of Yang, who was 3 under.

After a long delay for a fruitless search for her ball, she went back to the 10th tee with a penalty. Choi wound up with a triple-bogey 8 and appeared to be on the verge of unraveling. Yang made a par on 10, cutting Choi’s lead to 2 strokes.

Choi birdied No. 11 but got in trouble again on No. 12, putting her approach shot in the long rough short of the green. She managed to chip out of the rough and hit the green, then rolled in a putt of about 20 feet to save par — and, perhaps, her Open title.

Choi then came within inches of putting her tee shot in the water on No. 13, but her ball bounced to safety and she made another par.

She then made birdies on No. 15 and 16.

FRENCH OPEN: Germany’s Marcel Siem won the French Open for his second European Tour title, closing with a 4-under 67 for a one-stroke victory over Italy’s Francesco Molinari at Saint-Quentin-En-Yvelines, France.

Siem finished at 8-under 276 on Le Golf National’s Albatross Course. He also won the 2004 Dunhill Championship in South Africa. Molinari closed with a 64.

France’s Raphael Jacquelin was two strokes back after a 69.

GREENBRIER CLASSIC: Rookie Ted Potter Jr. made a 4-foot birdie putt on the third hole of a playoff with Troy Kelly on Sunday to win the Greenbrier Classic at White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., for his first PGA Tour victory.

Ranked 218th in the world, Potter overcame a four-stroke deficit with four holes to play, finishing with his second straight 6-under 64 to match Kelly at 16 under. Kelly closed with a 66.

Potter became the sixth first-time winner on the tour this season. He earned $1,098,000 and jumped from 173rd to 51st in the FedEx Cup standings.

The 28-year-old left-hander had missed five straight cuts entering the Greenbrier Classic and his previous best finish was a tie for 13th.

It marked the third straight year of close finishes on the Old White TPC course. Scott Stallings beat Bob Estes and Bill Haas on the first hole of a playoff last year, and Stuart Appleby shot a 59 to beat Jeff Overton by a stroke in 2010.

Charlie Wi and rookie Charlie Beljan tied for third at 14 under. Wi shot a 65, and Beljan had a 67.

Webb Simpson lost a one-stroke lead on the back nine at the tournament for the second straight year. The U.S. Open champion made three straight bogeys, shot 73 and tied for seventh at 11 under.

During the fourth round, Potter made long putts for a birdie at No. 15 and an eagle at No. 17, and his 5-footer for birdie at No. 18 tied Kelly, who could have avoided the playoff but missed birdie putts on the final two holes.

Both made par on the first two playoff holes, with Potter missing a 5-footer at No. 17 that would have won it, Moments before, Kelly made a 22-footer for par after finding trouble from the greenside bunker.

Playing the par-3 18th for the third time on the day, Kelly’s tee shot was short of a steep ridge in the middle of the green, while Potter sent his 9-iron onto the top of the ridge and it trickled close to the pin.

Kelly missed his 45-foot birdie putt, then watched Potter close out the win as thunderstorms moved in.

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