IRVING, Texas — In her 135th start on Tour, Jenny Shin shot the low round of the day, a bogey free final round 67, to capture her first career LPGA victory at the Volunteers of America Texas Shootout.
“Still in awe,” Shin said shortly after her win. “Nothing has registered yet. I wanted to talk to my mum, but I was on the verge of tears so I hung up without really her answering the phone. I think it will hit me as soon as I talk to my mum, yeah. I don’t have anything going on right now.”
Shin, who becomes the third Rolex First Time Winner on the season, had found herself near the top of the leaderboard before, with 20 top-10 finishes to her name in a six-year LPGA career, and was finally able to break through in Irving.
“I think I’ve been in contention so many times that I’ve kind of learned how to tune it out,” Shin explained. “I’m not sure I can repeat it exactly the same if I have a chance next time. I think every year I become a better player and I get a little bit more experience. And I think I’ve gotten a lot out of it every time I go through this, so hopefully next year will be better, the year after that will be better.”
After starting her day with a par on the first, Shin got hot making birdies on three of her next four holes to jump into a share of the lead with Gerina Piller and Amy Yang. After a birdie on the par-5 10th, Shin made eight pars coming in to post 14-under for the week which was good enough for the two-shot victory.
“I was chasing the leader all week so looking at the leaderboard didn’t get me nervous at all,” Shin said. “I practiced a lot of three footers the first two days because I kept hitting it too far past, and I know that I’ve made almost every single one of them so that really helped me with my confidence and I had a lot of them coming down the last six holes. So as soon as I made the first one, I went okay, I know I’ll make the second one and make the third one so it was good.”
The win was made even sweeter as fellow pros Sei Young Kim, Na Yeon Choi and Eun-Hee Ji showered Shin with beer outside of the scoring tent when the victory became official.
“It wasn’t something I pictured, for sure,” Shin said with a smile. “I wanted something like champagne, but now I’m stinking of beer. Then they were like, Oh, you stink of beer, then they shower you more with water. But it’s still good, I’m so glad they stuck around and gave me a shower of beer.”
Piller, the 54-hole leader, finished in a tie for second with MJ Hur and Amy Yang.
Piller had just one bogey in her first 54 holes of play, helping give her a two-shot lead at 14-under heading into Sunday. Unfortunately for Piller, she carded five bogeys on her way to a final round 73 and finished two shots back of first-time LPGA Tour winner Jenny Shin.
“I mean, the conditions are pretty tough, so it definitely wasn’t a cakewalk out there,” said Piller. “As you can see, I haven’t really looked at the leaderboard if anyone shot a real low one. The pins were really, really tough today and it’s tough to get them close, especially coming in. But I’ve taken nothing but good things away from this week. That was my first time ever holding the lead, especially for two rounds, so it’s just more confidence that I’m adding to what I already have.”
The American, who stood at No. 20 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf rankings heading into this week, will rise in the world rankings and retain her position on the United States roster for the UL International Crown after her fourth career runner-up finish on the LPGA Tour. Piller had tremendous support from her family, friends and the Texas crowd all week at Las Colinas Country Club and is looking forward to continuing her string of recent success that includes five top-10 finishes in her last six starts.
“It definitely encourages me,” Piller said. “I’ve never been in the lead before going into Sunday, so took nothing but good things from today and I still believe in myself and just looking forward to next week.”