Omega Dubai Ladies Classic

Swings of an Angel as Yin wins dramatic Dubai playoff

By Kent Gray
Angel Yin survived a dramatic final round and an even more suspenseful playoff to win the $500,000 Omega Dubai Ladies Classic and cap an unforgettable rookie season.

The 19-year-old Californian two-putted for birdie from the back of the par 4 17th green to edge 2009 champion In-Kyung Kim on the second hole of sudden death at Emirates Golf Club.

Both had birdied the 18th to extend what had started as a three-way playoff until France’s Celine Herbin dumped her approach into the water guarding the par 5 and eliminated herself with a double bogey.

After bravely trading near tap-in birdies on 18 with Yin, Kim hit her drive on the 17th just shy of pin high. But the reigning British Open champion rushed her chip six foot past the cup and then tugged the birdie try to extend her a 0-5 LPGA playoff heartache all the way to the Ladies European Tour. 

Yin has done it all this week, playing the joker with 36 and 54 hole leader Anne Van Dam (who slid to solo 4th with a closing 71), interviewer of the Dutchwoman on Thursday, interviewee after creeping into contention on Friday before finally emerging as the champion in the first playoff in the 12 year history of the LET’s season-ending event.

The winner’s $75,000 cheque and Omega wristwatch sealed a sensational year during which Yin earned a Solheim Cup captain’s pick from Juli Inkster on the back of a rookie season which netted $455, 235 and 52nd place in the LPGA rankings courtesy of an impressive five top-10s.

It’s clear golf has a new star in its midst after the world No. 57 raised the new Dallah trophy.

“It’s huge for me because at the LPGA, the last event, the CME Tour Championship, I played terribly [T-70] so to close out this year, 2017, which I think I’ve done really well, to close it off on a really good note with such a big win in Dubai , it just gives me that stamp that you can do it next year,” said Yin.

“I feel amazing, my first major tour professional win, so this is big for me.” 

Yin could and probably should have won it in regulation but pushed a three-footer for birdie on 17 and then, knowing a birdie would get it done, found that her drive on 18 had trickled into the water hazard on the far side of the left-handed dogleg. She held her nerve to make a two-putt par following the penalty drop and a 178-yard five iron into the green to sign for a 67 which saw her join Kim (65) and Herbin (64) on -15 and in the playoff.

“I wasn’t happy of course with hitting in the water because I know if I just had an iron and two putt I win it easily,” said Yin.

“But I know that I can make birdie there. Earlier this year I was playing in the same situation and I hooked it in the water and I had a two iron and I stuck it to two-feet and made birdie so I was like, I can do that again and even if I don’t I can make par and go in the playoff.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better one [finish to 2017]. The playoff, I think that just added to it. I didn’t want a playoff but obviously…it was awesome to have a playoff and play with IK Kim…that shot [Kim hit into 18 to take extra time to a second hole] was nice, she stuck it. “

Yin says her Solheim experience helped her get across the line. 

“I thought I was going to be very nervous at Solheim but I was more pumped than anything and it just helped me able to deal with my adrenaline better coming to the closing holes. Definitely the Solheim helped me a lot, I mean I think I got better with the crowds too.”

Indian teen Aditi Ashok had been in the conversation until she uncharacteristically doubled the 72nd hole after dunking her third shot into the par to finish tied 5th with Swede Pernilla Lindberg (70) and Englishwoman Charley Hull (69) on -12.

Dame Laura Davies started the day just four strokes out of the lead but a fairytale 46th LET title wasn’t to be as the 54-year-old signed for a frustrating six over 78 to nosedive to a tie for 41st.

In the end it was a player 35 years her junior that was celebrating. But how? In keeping with her unusual week, Yin planned to keep a date visiting the Penguins at Ski Dubai in Emirates Mall. You can take the talented kid out of LA, but you can’t take the kooky character out of the kid.


Kent Gray

Editor of Golf Digest Middle East. Has written about golf since 1989 and owned a suspect short game even longer.

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