Cold and windy conditions made the final round at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic very challenging for the golfers, but in the end Haru Nomura took home the winning purse. Nomura shot a 1-over 73 to claim her second career victory and second this season. Lee-Anne Pace (74) finished in solo second and four shots back. Nomura had five birdies and six bogeys in her round of 73 and was the highest final round by a winner since Inbee Park shot 75 at the 2013 Wegmans LPGA Classic.
For much of the afternoon, Lake Merced sustained steady 30-40 mph wind gusts making the already difficult track an intense mental and physical test. Pace said the combination of low temperatures and wind made it one of the toughest rounds she could remember.
“Personally, insane,” said Pace. “No, look, it was freezing. It was very, very gusty. A lot of the shots you stood over and it was just really, really difficult to commit to the lines, everything. It was a very tough day out there.”
Nomura started the day with a three-shot lead and after her second birdie of the day on the par 5 sixth hole, extended the lead to five shots over Gerina Piller. But a tough stretch in the middle of her round made things more interesting for the sixth-year LPGA member from Japan. She bogeyed four out of five holes from Nos. 7-11 and cut the lead to just one shot. The 23-year old said her rough patch didn’t waver her confidence one bit.
“No. I’m never nervous,” said Nomura. “This weather very cold, so sometimes bogey is okay.”
A poor tee shot by Piller on the 11th hole left her in the fescue on the left side of the fairway. After punching out just a few feet, she failed to convert her bogey putt and dropped to 5-under and three shots back.
Na Yeon Choi looked like she would contest Nomura down the stretch with birdies on 11 and 14 to cut the lead to one but dropped off with a bogey on No. 15 and double bogey on the 16th.
South Africa’s Lee-Anne was the surprise late in the day and made a surge with three birdies on the back nine and got within three shots. Pace, who was in the final group with Nomura, started the final round with five consecutive bogeys in her first five holes. Asked what she said to herself at that point, Pace joked that she flat out questioned herself.
“What are you doing?” Pace said. “No, you know, my caddie came to me again, and he said to me, everyone is going down, be patient. I know we made some mistakes, but come on, let’s get it back to even par, and that was our goal, and we got it back to 2-over, so nearly reached the goal and got a good result in the end.”
Nomura birdied the 17th hole to extend her lead to four shots and said that coming into this week she had a really good feeling about performing well at Lake Merced.