On a disjointed Sunday during which the third round was completed early in the morning as the fourth round got under way – and with no final-round re-pairing after a five-hour rain delay on Saturday – 34-year-old Kris Tamulis shot a closing 65 on the Senator Course at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Prattville, Ala., to win for the first time in her 11th season on the LPGA Tour. Tamulis, who entered the final round three shots behind leader Austin Ernst, benefited from the extra holes in the morning, getting into a rhythm and finishing well before Ernst and a resurgent Yani Tseng, whom she beat by a stroke with her 17-under-par 271 total. Without looking at any leaderboards – “I saw one by accident
on 9,” Tamulis said – she birdied six of her first 11 holes in the final round. Tamulis added two more birdies, none more crucial than the one at the par-5 17th to
keep her lead.
Who didn’t win
Ernst came to Alabama with something to prove. Sitting 13th in Solheim Cup points, she wasn’t really in the conversation to be one of U.S. captain Juli Inkster’s picks. As she intimated all year long, Inkster went right down the list, picking Brittany Lang (11th in points) and Paula Creamer (who was 12th after Jessica Korda made the team based on the world rankings). Ernst had plenty of opportunities to make Inkster question that decision. She made three birdies in her first 12 holes but could not get the putter going after that. Relatively easy birdie putts on 14 and 16 slipped by. When she and Tseng failed to roll in birdie putts at 17, Tamulis, who was on the range in case of a playoff, breathed a little easier. Ernst and Tseng both hit great approaches into 18 but, again, missed relatively easy putts from inside 15 feet.