Stanford won with a par on the third play-off hole, finally knocking Korean teenager Jenny Shin out of the reckoning after Korea’s world number two Na Yeon Choi and China’s Shanshan Feng had been eliminated in two previous trips up the tough 18th hole. All four had finished on 10-under-par 278 for the tournament.
SINGAPORE - FEBRUARY 26: Angela Stanford of the USA with the winners trophy after the final round of the HSBC Women's Champions at the Tanah Merah Country Club on February 26, 2012 in Singapore. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
Amazingly, the last victory for a US player in the LPGA’s long history of staging tournaments in Asia was Juli Inkster’s win at the Samsung World Championship of Women’s Golf, from an invitational field of sixteen LPGA players, in Seoul, South Korea in October 1997. The 2012 HSBC Women’s Champions was the 39th event in the region since then.
Of the six Asian events on the LPGA’s 2012 schedule, the last to boast an American champion was the Mizuno Classic in Japan which was won by Betsy King in 1993 when it was known as the Toray Japan Queens Cup. King’s win, at the Lions Country Club in Hyogo, was the last US victory against a larger field, over 18 years ago.
“I’m the first American to win in Singapore. That’s pretty cool!” said the thirty-four-year-old Texan, unaware at the time of how long her compatriots’ drought stretched back.
“It’s funny; sitting at the Pro-Am party (on the Wednesday before the tournament) I was thinking we haven’t had an American win this thing yet. Honestly, I thought, well, I’m an American. Might as well give it a go!”
Stanford, whose last win was in 2009, didn’t do it the easy way; only converting the fourth of the putts she had to win the tournament. The cruelest of those was in regulation play after a violent thunderstorm struck with the final group on the 18th tee and all their rivals safely in the clubhouse. After a 90-minute delay, play resumed with nineteen-year-old Shin leading Stanford by one shot, but the young Korean found a water hazard off the tee and made double bogey, while Stanford’s first chance for victory went begging when she missed a par putt from around five feet.