Ruoning Yin Wins 2023 KPMG Women's PGA Championship
Staring down history on the 72nd hole of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, Ruoning Yin took one last look at the hole, lined herself up, and rolled in a 15-footer for one last circle on her scorecard.
An emphatic fist pump followed. She had a feeling she was going to make that birdie putt. A star was born.
Yin, who shot a final-round 67 at Baltusrol Golf Club, won the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship by one over Yuka Saso.
“When I was on the 18th tee and I saw the leaderboard, and I know I have one-shot lead, but […] after the tee shot, I saw Yuka make an incredible birdie (on 18), and I know I have to make birdie at this hole to win the championship. I'm glad I did it,” Yin said with a laugh.
“When I was walking to (the winner’s press conference), I just said, ‘Oh, wow, major winner. It's amazing. It's just unreal.”
Yin was in the penultimate group Sunday and went out in 1-under 34 after making birdie on the par-5 7th. She added birdies on Nos. 13 and 14 before closing with that tidy effort on the par-5 18th to get to 8 under for the week. Yin, a constant leaderboard watcher, knew exactly where she stood on the standings. She also knew she had to make birdie on the closing hole after Saso got it in the house at 7 under thanks to a nifty up-and-down from a greenside bunker. She shot a 5-under 66 Sunday.
Saso’s runner-up result is her fourth top-10 of the season.
“I'm happy, but I feel like I still need to work on many stuff, so I'm not really fully satisfied, but I'm happy that I was able to show some of the work that I've been putting in,” Saso, who won the 2021 U.S. Women’s Open, said.
Yin opened with a 67 Thursday but fell down the leaderboard after a 2-over 73 on Friday. She bounced back on the weekend, shooting rounds of 69-67. According to KPMG Performance Insights, Yin is the LPGA Tour’s season-long leader in strokes gained: approach, and she put on an absolute ball-striking masterclass over the last two days – she hit her final 37 greens in regulation, which is the longest such streak on the LPGA Tour this season.
“My coach […] always said, you're such a good ball striker. You just need to play smart and focus on your line, on your target, and you're going to be fine. I think we're doing good right now,” Yin said.
Prior to Sunday and Yin’s victory, Shanshan Feng was the only Chinese major-championship winner ever on the LPGA Tour. Feng won the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship 11 years ago.
Yin’s win at the DIO Implant L.A. Open earlier this year made her just the second winner from China in the LPGA Tour’s history, joining Feng.
Yin was an accomplished amateur in China, having won nine titles in 2019 alone before turning professional. After turning pro, she won three straight titles on the China LPGA Tour (in her first three starts, in fact) – the most in the history of that Tour.
“I'm glad that I can be the second Chinese player after Shanshan won a major. Like I said after the L.A. Open, I think it's going to push a lot of kids to play golf,” Yin said.
Yin, who is just 20 years old, joins Jin Young Ko and Lilia Vu as two-time winners on the LPGA Tour this season. Vu captured the first major of the year, the Chevron Championship.
Five golfers ended up at 6 under and tied for third including Yin’s countrywoman Xiyu Lin – who is technically Yin’s landlord in Orlando. Lin was at 7 under and tied for the lead until she hit her tee shot on the 72nd hole of the championship into the water.
Earlier in the week, Lin said after Yin’s win at the L.A. Open she was going to raise her rent. With the first-place prize this week at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship increased to $1.5-million, Yin said she might have to help Lin out.
“Actually, I’m thinking about buying her a house right now,” Yin said with a laugh.
Lin finished at 6 under along with Megan Khang, Anna Nordqvist, Carlota Ciganda, and Stephanie Meadow.
Ciganda fired a 7-under 64 Sunday, tied for the low round of the tournament with Perrine Delacour.
54-hole leader Leona Maguire shot a 3-over 74 to finish tied for 11th.
Play was suspended in the final round at 1:02 p.m. ET due to dangerous weather. It resumed at 2:54 p.m.
But even with the weather delay and with history on the line, the 20-year-old Yin kept her laser-like focus and at the end of the week, walks away with the title of KPMG Women’s PGA Championship winner. She’ll get to add her name to the impressive list of winners at Baltusrol including Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson, and Mickey Wright.
“Even I think about that right now, I've got goosebumps. They're all legends,” Yin said. “I'm glad that I can be part of it.”