Caroline Masson earns surprise victory at Manulife LPGA Classic
Alena Sharp the top Canadian at 9-under
The unlikely figure of Caroline Masson emerged from a crowded leaderboard to clinch a one-stroke victory at the Manulife LPGA Classic in Canada on Sunday.
Germany's Masson recovered from a double-bogey at the first hole, roaring back with nine birdies to leapfrog more than a dozen players with a five-under-par 67 at the Whistle Bear course in Cambridge, Ont.
"It means so much," a tearful Masson told Golf Channel after being doused with beer by several of her peers, including runner-up Minjee Lee.
Masson finished at 16-under for her first LPGA victory, with Australia's Lee (68), South Korean Mi Hyang Lee (71) and France's Karine Icher (66) tied for second at15-under.
Alena Sharp finished tied for 26th place at nine-under as the top Canadian. Maude-Aimee Leblanc (-7) finished tied for 39th along with Brooke Henderson.
Anne-Catherine Tanguay (-6) finished tied for 44th.
An anticipated showdown between world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn and No. 1 Lydia Ko never materialized, though both were in contention until late.
Jutanugarn, seeking her sixth victory since May, missed a three-foot putt at the 15th and later hooked her tee shot into an unplayable lie in thick woods at the last and had to retee.
She finished two strokes off the pace, equal fifth with New Zealander Ko and Norway's Suzann Pettersen.
Masson's victory was just the second of the year by a European.
"I've been out here for a long time. Four years is a long time," said Masson, 27, who clinched victory with a tap-in par at the last. "I've just gotten better every year, working hard."
She said that dropping two shots at the first hole and falling five strokes from the lead perhaps helped her relax.
"It's hard to believe I came back after that start. Maybe the pressure was off a little bit.
"It's a golf course where you can make a lot of birdies and that's what I tried to do. It was super-important to birdie the second hole and just get it going and see some putts go in."