GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) — Anna Nordqvist successfully defended her ShopRite LPGA Classic title Sunday, closing with a 7-under 64 in breezy conditions for a one-stroke victory over Haru Nomura.
The 28-year-old Swede became the oldest tour winner this year and the first to successfully defend a title since Inbee Park won the KPMG Women’s PGA for the third straight time last year.
“It feels really special, because I’ve been playing pretty good all spring,” Nordqvist said. “I just haven’t really got any results, and it just really got frustrating.”
Nordqvist finished at 17-under 196 on Stockton Seaview’s Donald Ross-designed Bay Course to tie the tournament record that Annika Sorenstam set in 1998 and matched in 2005. The 6-foot former Arizona State player earned $225,000 for her sixth tour title. She opened with rounds of 64 and 68.
“My caddie just told me to stay patient and so did the rest of my team, because they knew how well I was playing, getting really zero out of it,” Nordqvist said. “Sometimes the longer you have to wait and the more patient you have to stay, but the sweeter it feels when it finally pays off.”
Nomura, a two-time winner this year, was second after a 66. The Japanese player birdied the par-5 18th.
“Today I played good,” Nomura said. “Still 5 under. Today, Anna, 7 under. Yeah, my play today is good.”
Nordqvist birdied three of the first four holes and added birdies on Nos. 8 and 9 to make the turn in 5-under 32. She also birdied the par-4 12th and 16th.
In seven starts in the tournament, Nordqvist has five top-five finishes. She tied for fifth in 2011 and 2012 and tied for third in 2014. She’s projected to jump from 19th to 16th in the world ranking.
France’s Karine Icher, the second-round leader after matching the course record with a 62, birdied the 18th for a 69 to finish third at 14 under. She’s winless on the tour.
Christina Kim was fourth at 13 under after a 65. She finished second last week in Michigan, five strokes behind winner Ariya Jutanugarn.
Stacy Lewis, the tournament winner in 2012 and 2014, shot her second straight 74 after an opening 66 to fall into a tie for 67th at 1 over.
Down to sixth in the world, the 31-year-old Lewis is winless in 50 starts since taking the North Texas LPGA Shootout in June 2014 for her 11th LPGA Tour victory. She tied for second three weeks ago in Alabama, her 10th runner-up finish during the drought and her 23rd overall.
Top-ranked Lydia Ko and the streaking Jutanugarn skipped the tournament to get ready for the KPMG Women’s PGA, the second major championship of the year that starts Thursday at Sahalee near Seattle. Jutanugarn has won three straight events.