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Kia Classic: Sandra Gal birdies 18, gets her first win

March 27, 2011 |  6:16 pm

Gal_250 Germany's Sandra Gal knocked an approach wedge to  about a foot from the hole, a third shot on the par-five 18th that followed one by Jiyai Shin that had drawn a roar from the crowd hit and   landed about eight feet from the hole.

Gal and Shin had come to that place tied at 15 under par and in the lead. Shin is the second-ranked golfer in the world and knows how to win. Gal, ranked 100th, had never won on the LPGA Tour. But it was Shin who showed some nerves at the end. The 22-year-old South Korean lined up her putt, then backed away, causing the gallery to gasp and then applaud, as if acknowledging that Shin was like all of them, just a little uncertain.

While Gal stood with her back turned, not wanting to watch, Shin's putt rimmed in and then out. Gal tapped in her birdie and with that Gal broke through, winning the Kia Classic tournament and a check for $255,000.

Gal shot a final round of two-under 71 and had a four-day total of 276, 16 under par. Shin, who had led after the second and third rounds, had an even-par 73 and a total of 277.

American Cristie Kerr, who is ranked third in the world behind Shin and No. 1 Yani Tseng, had a final-round 66 that moved her from a tie for 12th after the third round to a  tie for third with South Korea's I.K. Kim.They were five shots behind Gal. Tseng and Na Yeon Choi of South Korea finished tied for fifth followed by a trio of Americans -- Michelle Wie, Diamond Bar's Mindy Kim and new mother Marcy Hart.


LPGA Kia Classic leaderboard

Jiyai Shin leads Sandra Gal heading into final round

-- Diane Pucin

Photo: Sandra Gal. Credit: Scott Halleran / Getty Images