SHIGA, Japan — Overnight leader Ai Suzuki shot a bogey-free 5-under 67 on Sunday to win the Japan Classic by three strokes for her first LPGA career victory.
Suzuki carded her fifth birdie of the day on the par-5 18th hole at the Seta Golf Course to finish with a 17-under 199, three shots ahead of Hyo Joo Kim (66).
"This one is special because it's a US LPGA tour event," Suzuki said through a translator. "It's beyond Japan, an International event."
Suzuki is the second straight Japanese winner of the Japan Classic following Nasa Hataoka. With the win, Suzuki, a regular on the JLPGA, becomes eligible for LPGA Tour membership.
"It was my dream so I feel like I want to challenge," Suzuki said. "But I can't speak English so I need to talk to my family because I need their support."
Minjee Lee finished in third place at 11-under 205 after shooting a 68 in the final event of the LPGA Tour's Asia Swing.
Jennifer Kupcho of the United States was tied for fourth with Jin Yang of China after a 68 left her seven strokes back.
"I was hitting the ball really well," Kupcho said. "Gave myself a lot of putts. I even missed a couple, left them on the lip," Kupcho said. "I played really well this week and I'm pretty happy with it."
Gaby Lopez, who started the final round in second place three strokes back, offset a pair of birdies with two bogeys for an even-par 72 that left her tied for sixth place with three others including two-time Japan Classic winner Shanshan Feng (70).
Lexi Thompson, making her first start since the Indy Women in Tech Championship in September, was tied for 24th place after a 71.
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