Anna Nordqvist became the first player to successfully defend her title in the 28-year history of the ShopRite Classic with her victory Sunday and moved on to the short list of favorites at next week’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
Nordqvist won the Women’s PGA Championship as a rookie in 2009, when it was called the LPGA Championship. It was the first of her six LPGA titles.
Closing with a 7-under-par 64 at Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club, Nordqvist finished at 17 under overall, one shot ahead of Haru Nomura (66). Nordqvist hit 11 of 14 fairways Sunday and 17 greens in regulation.
Nordqvist’s game sets up well for the classic major championship layout expected next week at Sahalee Country Club outside Seattle, where thick rough and narrow fairways should demand precision ball striking. Nordqvist’s ball striking stats are among the best on tour this season. She went into the ShopRite Classic ranked seventh on tour in driving accuracy and third in hitting greens in regulation.
“You would think, based on the layout, that for someone to win [at Sahalee] they will have to be able to control the golf ball, and to do that you’ve got to be a good ball striker,” Kerry Haigh, the chief championships officer of the PGA of America, told the Seattle Times in a story published Sunday. “Certainly, length obviously helps, but I don’t believe it’s as crucial here as it is at some other venues. To be able to drive the ball where you need it to go is important, because that’s a big help in playing the rest of the hole and hitting the green.
“And you need to be able to manufacture shots if you do miss the fairway, to be able to get it back into play.”
At 28 years, 11 months and 26 days old, Nordqvist is the oldest winner of an LPGA event this season by more than five years. Ha Na Jang was the oldest before her. Jang won the HSBC Women’s Championship at 23 years, 10 months and 4 days old back in March.