Gal Wins Kia Classic at Industry Hills


Sandra Gal is the second best-known golfer from Dusseldorf, Germany, and for one day she took the spotlight off Martin Kaymer, the No. 1-ranked men’s player in the world.
Gal hit her approach shot from 83 yards to within two feet for a birdie on the final hole to claim her first professional victory by one stroke over Jiyai Shin  of South Korea in the Kia Classic at Industry Hills Golf Club at Pacific Palms in the City of Industry.
“I’m a bit overwhelmed,” said the 25-year-old Gal, whose last victory came when she played at the University of Florida. “It was an amazing day. You know, it was close all day long, so I had to kind of dig deep to pull out some shots.
” … I was trying to hole it (on No. 18). I came close, so, yeah. Pretty much just hit it where I wanted to. I hit a little grip down sand wedge. I really didn’t want to go into a playoff.”
Gal, who played junior golf with Kaymer, became the second German to win on the LPGA Tour, joining Tina Fischer (2001 Asahi Ryokuken International) by carding a score of 67-68-70-71–276, 16-under par, and collected $255,000.
Shin, ranked No. 2 in the Women’s World Golf Rankings, wound up at 70-64-70-73– 277, after her four-foot birdie putt to force a playoff lipped out.
“Standing on the 18th hole everybody gets pressure,” said Shin, who at the age of 22 has won 34 times around the world, including eight titles on the LPGA Tour.
“So it was really big pressure, because Sandra was really close to the hole. So I’m thinking I have to make this putt for the playoff. And, well, just too much pressure on myself. … My heartbeat was too  big.”
Cristie Kerr of Scottsale, Ariz., No. 3 in the world, shot 74-70-71-66–281 and tied for third with In-Kyung of South Korea, a resident of San Diego, who finished at 70-69-72-70–281.
Yani Tseng of Taiwan, who plays out of Oak Valley Golf Club in Beaumont and is the No. 1 player in the Women’s World Golf Rankings, wound up in a tie for fifth at 71-73-72-67–283.
Michelle Wie of Honolulu and Stanford totaled 68-75-71-70–284 to tie for seventh with Mindy Kim of Diamond Bar, who checked in at 74-66-73-71–284, while Juli Inkster of Los Altos Hills and San Jose State tied for 10th at 75-70-69-72–286.
Paige Mackenzie of Yakima, Wash, and the University of Washington finished at 71-71-72-73–287 to tie for 12th with Amanda Blumenherst of Scottsdale, Ariz., and Duke, who wound up at 66-74-73-74–287.
Anna Nordqvist of Sweden and Arizona State tied for 16th at 71-70-71-76–288, Pat Hurst of San Leandro and San Jose State tied for 24th at 73-71-72-74–290 and Jane Park of Rancho Cucamonga and UCLA tied for 29th at 71-75-73-72–291.
Paula Creamer of Pleasanton shot 74-74-73-72–293 to tie for 32nd with Katherine Hull of Australia and Pepperdine, who wound up at 73-71-76-73–293, Amy Hung of Las Vegas, who finished at 70-74-76-73–293, and Mina Harigae of Monterey and Duke, who came in at 73-73-73-74–293.
Leta Lindley of Carlsbad and the University of Arizona tied for 42nd at 74-72-71-77– 294.
Jimin Kang of Edmonds, Wash., and Arizona State totaled 73-75-75-72–295 to tie for 46th with Azahara Munoz of Spain and Arizona State, who finished at 75-72-74-74–295.
Stephanie Louden of Las Vegas and Stanford tied for 54th 73-75-76-72–296, Christina Kim of San Jose and DeAnza College tied for 56th at 71-76-77-73–297, Candie Kung of Fountain Valley and USC finished 68th at 73-75-75-79–302, and Heather Bowie Young of Fort Worth, Texas, and Arizona State was 69th at 75-73-77-78–303.
Shin took a one-stroke lead into the final round, but fell two back by carding three bogeys on the front nine, but got back to even with a birdie on the 13th hole, where Gal took her only bogey of the day.
After Shin regained the lead with a 30-foot birdie putt on the 15th, Gal came right back with a 12-foot birdie putt on the next hole, setting the stage for the finish.
And Gal handled things exactly the way that German guy, Kaymer, has been doing it.
–Tom LaMarre

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