Dubai: A smile looks good on anyone. But it looks even better on you if you’ve just landed the biggest victory of your career, as was the case with young American golfer, Angel Yin, at the Omega Dubai Ladies Classic on Saturday.
The 19-year-old rookie from Monterey Park, California had just beaten former champion, In Yung Kim of South Korea, in a taut play-off to win the European Ladies Tour’s (LET) season finale at the Emirates Golf Club’s famed Majlis course.
Yin firmly putted for a birdie three at the second play-off hole on the 17th — leaving Kim with a seemingly regulation putt from five feet, to force the competition to a third play-off hole. But the South Korean, who had called for ‘bravery’ at the start of the tournament, wilted under the pressure and missed.
Yin picked up a check for $75,000.
While it was heartbreaking to watch Kim, who won the title here in 2009, stumble for the sixth time in a play-off in her career, it was heart-warming to soak in Yin’s joy at becoming the first rookie to win the newly branded Dubai Ladies Classic, formerly the Dubai Ladies Masters.
The American teenager shot a bogey-free 67 to join Kim and France’s Celine Herbin at the top of the leaderboard at the end of the fourth and final round, to take the game into a playoff.
While Herbin, who fired a 64 fluffed her lines when she found the water in the first extra hole, Yin and Kim both comfortably made birdies, necessitating an extra hole in the playoff.
Yin, who later said that she knew just how she wanted to play the par-four hole, for the second time on the day, two-putted for birdie while Kim failed to hole, from 10 feet.
“It feels amazing to win this tournament, this is big for me,” said the teenager.
“I’m kinda like speechless. I’ve just won my first event with a playoff so I’ve crossed a lot of things off my list.
Overnight leader Anne Van Dam posted a one-under 71 to finish in fourth place, with Britain’s Charley Hull a further stroke behind with India’s Aditi Ashok, Sweden’s Pernilla Lindberg and Thailand’s Thidapa Suwannapura.
Golf is sometimes a cruel sport and it’s final rounds are bursting with tortured finishes and both Kim and Frenchwoman, Celine Herbin, who was the third player in the first playoff hole on the 18th, will have a lot to mull about being brave on the course and equally smart.
As she stood holding the new Dubai Ladies Classic trophy, inspired by an Arabic coffee pot, in front of the Emirates Golf Club’s world famous Bedouin tent inspired clubhouse, flashing her biggest smile, there was no doubt that a star was born.
Such has been her rapid rise from the Junior ranks of the Solheim Cup to LET tour winner, that it’s obvious there is more to come from the big-hitting South Korean, a former Amateur champion in the USA.
The legendary Laura Davies, who looked to be a contender, went six-over 78 and Ladies European Tour Order of Merit winner Georgia Hull finished in 12th place thanks to a one-over 73.