Kang holds off Boutier to win in LPGA’s return

Danielle Kang shot a 2-under par 70 in the final round Sunday to edge France’s Celine Boutier and win the LPGA Drive On Championship in Toledo, Ohio, in the tour’s first tournament since February because of the coronavirus.

On a day in which scoring was at a premium, Kang’s 70 actually tied for the best round of the day. She finished the three rounds at 7-under 209. Boutier, who began the day tied for the lead with Kang and England’s Jodi Ewart Shadoff, shot a 71 to finish alone in second at 6-under 210.

The Drive On Championship, played at Inverness Club, was the LPGA’s first event since the Women’s Australian Open in mid-February.

It is Kang’s first win on the season and the fourth of her career. She last won the Buick LPGA Shanghai in October of last year.

The 27-year-old San Francisco native got off to a hot start Sunday, with a birdies on the par-5 second hole and par-4 fourth to quickly get to 7 under for the tournament and make it clear she would be tough to beat. Another birdie on the par-4 11th hole moved her to 8 under for the tournament, but she gave that stroke back with a bogey two holes later.

“Yeah, Inverness Golf Club is definitely a chameleon,” Kang told reporters of the tough day for everyone. “That’s what I kept calling it. Depending on the weather, depending on the time, it change how it how it plays, how receptive it can be, defense. It’s just so different.

“I think the best way I can put it is you have to respect the golf course. The golf course changes so often, and you can’t take little shots for granted. I just try and keep as much focus as possible and not let the golf course get to me and try and play the course instead of fighting it.”

Boutier, meanwhile, bogeyed No. 5 — a par 3 — and then made pars on the next four holes to make the turn three strokes back. After a par on the 10th, Boutier caught fire with birdies on 11, 12 and 14 to put her even with Kang. But a bogey on the par-4 15th gave Kang the lead again, and Boutier parred out the remainder of her round.

“Yeah, she was ahead the whole front, and then I just try to focus on my game, because at that point I hadn’t played that well,” Boutier said of her early struggles. “So I just tried to hit fairways, hit greens, give myself opportunities, and then I managed to make a couple of birdies.”

Ewart Shadoff struggled on Sunday, shooting a 3-over 75 to finish at 2 under for the tournament, good for fifth place. Australia’s Minjee Lee (70) finished third at 4 under and Japan’s Yui Kawamoto (72) finished fourth at 3 under. A group of five golfers finished the tournament in a tie for sixth at even par: Scotland’s Gemma Dryburgh (71) and Americans Brittany Lang (72), Mina Harigae (73), Sarah Burnham (74) and Sarah Schmelzel (75).

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