Kang began her rally with consecutive birdies on the 13th and 14th holes at Highland Meadows, and then all she needed were pars the rest of the way for a 3-under 68, all because of Ko’s shocking collapse.
Ko was poised to end two years and 44 tournaments without a victory. She made bogey on the 14th hole, and with Kang’s birdies, the lead suddenly was down to two. Ko dropped another shot on the 16th, and caught a break when Kang was in position for birdie on the par-5 17th and had to settle for par.
But on the closing par 5, Ko fell apart. She hit her chip through the green. With a slightly uphill lie in patchy rough, Ko muffed the chip and watched it roll into a bunker. She blasted that out to 10 feet and missed the putt that would have forced a playoff. She wound up with a 73.
Jodi Ewart Shadoff, in contention for the second straight week but still without an LPGA victory, played bogey-free after the opening hole for a 67. She wound up in a tie for second with Ko.
Ko reached No. 1 in the world as a teenager and now is outside the top 50. Her back had been troubling her all week, but this appeared to be more about nerves.
Kang finished at 15-under 269 in winning for the fifth time in her LPGA Tour career.
The two-time U.S. Women’s Amateur champion won last week when the LPGA Tour resumed its schedule at tough Inverness Club in nearby Toledo, site of next year’s Solheim Cup.
Now, Kang is a back-to-back winner and has established herself as the top American player.
Minjee Lee finished eagle-birdie for a 68 to finish alone in fourth.
The LPGA Tour, which resumed after six months because of the pandemic, now heads to Scotland for two weeks for the Ladies Scottish Open and the Women’s British Open.
LPGA Tour Release, Aug 10, 2020