It was one of those unusually windy days in Texas when, unless you drove a Hummer, it was tough to keep your car on the road. Yet, some of the best female golfers in the world had to figure out how to shape a shot in far-less-than-perfect conditions at the final round of the LPGA Volunteers of America® Texas Shootout at Las Colinas Country Club in Irving, Texas.
In a word: brutal.
Players were literally sprinting to the greens to mark their balls before Mother Nature sent them careening into the fringe, the sand, or, worse yet, the water.
When the Sunday, final round started, 16 players were under par. By the day’s end, only 3 players were still in the red.
Self-proclaimed lover of playing in the wind and spicy food, 24-year-old Haru Nomura of Japan started the day with a 2-stroke lead, expanded that to 4, and until the back nine, it looked like this 2016 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open and Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic winner was cruise-controlling her way to an easy third victory. But, as Nomura struggled a bit on the back nine, 39-year-old American Cristie Kerr was fighting her way around the course like a warrior.
A birdie at 17 (the only birdie of the day on that hole) and par at 18 gave Kerr a one-stroke (-3) lead going into the clubhouse.
Just when it looked like it was over, Nomura birdied 18, forcing what ended up being a marathon playoff in which Nomura and Kerr replayed this 512-yard par 5 a full six times, until Nomura finally emerged victorious, rolling it on the green in two, then two-putting for a birdie. Kerr, who hit her second shot in the sand, missed her birdie putt to end the tournament not long before darkness set in.
“I had a great comeback to even be able to get into the playoff,” Kerr said. “I didn’t play great in the beginning of the round, but I played awesome coming in and had a lot of birdie putts that could have gone in on the back. It wasn’t my week, so, still a pretty good week.”
Although the wind chill in Irving made it feel more like a very blustery March morning than an end-of-April Texas afternoon, Nomura was still doused in celebratory beverages after what turned into a seven-hour round.
“I’m so cold,” Nomura said. “And I’m so happy to win.”
Although the victory hadn’t totally sinked in, Nomura definitely knew how she was going to celebrate.
“I’m here in Texas. I’m going to have a steak,” she said.