YANGMEI, Taiwan (AP) — Suzann Pettersen successfully defended her title in the LPGA Taiwan Championship on Sunday for her fourth tour victory of the year and third in her last five starts.
The Norwegian star closed with a 3-under 69 for a five-stroke victory over Solheim Cup teammate Azahara Munoz. Pettersen finished at 9-under 279 and earned $300,000 for her 14th LPGA Tour title. She has five LPGA Tour victories in Asia and won a Ladies European Tour event in China this year.
"It feels great to come here and defend my title and play as well as I did," Pettersen said. "It was very tough out there. Since the very first shot on Thursday, the conditions gave us a very big challenge. Today, Azahara gave me an even bigger challenge. She played really good on the front nine well. She played really good all around. I think I can almost thank her for keep pressing and keep pushing me because I just had to keep staying aggressive and try to make birdies."
Munoz, the former Arizona State player from Spain, shot a 70. She was within a stroke after Pettersen bogeyed the par-5 ninth, but fell back on the back nine. Pettersen birdied Nos. 13, 14 and 18, and Munoz birdied the 12th before dropping stokes on Nos. 13 and 16.
"I was 4 under through 12 holes, and I was really playing really well," Munoz said. "I made two bogeys coming in, but I hit two really good shots and one came up short and one came up long. Just misjudged the wind a little bit, but I played really well."
Sweden's Caroline Hedwall, another European Solheim Cup player, was third at 2 under after a 70.
The second-ranked Pettersen won the LPGA Lotte in Hawaii in April and had consecutive victories in September in the Safeway Classic in Oregon and the Evian Championship in France.
She pushed her season money total to $2,241,847, leaving her $93,613 behind top-ranked Inbee Park with three tournaments left. Park, a six-time winner this year, did not compete in Taiwan.
Pettersen also is trying to pass Park in the world ranking.
"Yeah, being No. 2 is pretty much the first loser and I've been No. 2 behind four great No. 1s," Pettersen said. "I've been No. 2 behind Annika (Sorenstam), I was No. 2 behind Lorena (Ochoa), I was No. 2 behind Yani (Tseng) and I'm No. 2 behind Inbee.
"I think personally, mentally, I'm ready to take on No. 1. That's pretty much that's my drive, that's my goal. I want to dominate ladies golf and to do that, you've got to go out and you've got to be comfortable with big leads."
Tseng, the Taiwanese star who won the 2011 tournament, had a 72 to tie for 40th at 10 over. Winless in 42 LPGA Tour since the 2012 Kia Classic, she has tumbled from first to 25th in the world ranking in seven months.