On a stormy afternoon at Baltusrol Golf Club, it was Ruoning Yin lifting the trophy on the 18th green, victorious in the 69th playing of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. The day began with Ireland’s Leona Maguire leading the way at 7-under, but Jenny Shin quickly added her name to the conversation, making birdie on the first after an unbelievable second shot from the trees that she hit to three feet to tie the lead. Things were quiet until Maguire bogeyed the par-4, 6th hole to drop back to 6-under and Xiyu Lin began to charge, going out in 30 after recording five birdies on the front nine to move to 7-under and share the lead with Shin. Play was suspended at 1:02 p.m. for 1 hour and 52 minutes, resuming at 2:54 p.m.
Shin and Maguire both bogeyed the par-4, 8th hole after the restart, dropping to 6-under and 5-under, respectively, giving Lin the solo lead. A slew of players were in a share of second at that point, including Lin’s groupmate and Mizuho Americas Open winner Rose Zhang, who birdied the par-4, 11th to get to 6-under, and Spain’s Carlota Ciganda, who was charging late, working on a 7-under round that would tie the lowest single-round score of the week. But a watery tee shot on the 18th was ultimately the end of the line for the Spaniard, whose 64 just wasn’t enough to capture her first major title.
Zhang dropped a shot on the 13th, bouncing back straight away with a birdie on 14 to remain one back of the lead at 6-under, and then hit her second shot tight on 15. But Zhang left her birdie try on the edge, tapping in for par to remain in a five-way tie for second with three holes to play. She would ultimately bogey the par-3, 16th hole after she was unable to get up and down for par out of the bunker, parring in, even with a tee shot in the water on 18, to fire a 4-under, 67 and record her first top-10 finish in a major championship.
While she was in the conversation early in the week, it was still a surprise to see Yin quietly climbing up the leaderboard late on Sunday. She birdied No. 7 early to move to 5-under and two back of the lead, then turned on the heat in the middle of the back nine, recording back-to-back birdies on holes 13 and 14 to tie her good friend and landlord, Lin, at 7-under. Japan’s Yuka Saso was another player who put the pedal down late, making four birdies in six holes, including one on the par-4, 15th to move into a three-way share of the lead with Lin and Yin.
Lin hit her drive in the water on the par-5, 18th, making a bogey to drop back to 6-under and put herself out of it. Meanwhile, Yin’s putt for birdie on the par-5, 17th to move to 8-under just eked by and after Saso made birdie on the 18th with an impressive shot from the bunker to move to 7-under, Yin came to the 18th hole needing a birdie to win. She hit it in the right rough off the tee, laid up on her second shot and left herself a birdie try inside 15 feet for the victory. Just like she did at the DIO Implant LA Open earlier this season, Yin poured it into the heart to win her second LPGA Tour title and first major championship by one shot.
“When I was on the 18th tee and I saw the leaderboard, and I know I have one-shot lead, but after the tee shot, I saw Yuka make an incredible birdie here, and I know I have to make birdie at this hole to win the championship. I’m glad I did it,” said Yin. “Today, I didn’t think too much. My goal was just no three-putts because the last couple days I made five bogeys, and four of them is made by three-putts. Today just no three-putts.”