Sun, 18 Apr 2021

Austin Ernst dominates final round, takes LPGA Drive On title

Field Level Media
08 Mar 2021, 09:55 GMT+10

Austin Ernst capped a strong weekend on Sunday with a final round 2-under 70 to win the Drive On Championship at the Golden Ocala Golf Equestrian Club in Ocala, Fla.

Ernst finished at 15-under 273, five shots clear of Jennifer Kupcho, who began the day one shot back of Ernst. Ernst collected four straight birdies on the front 9 - from No. 4 through No. 7 - to get to 17-under before the turn and cruised from there.

A pair of bogeys on the back 9 for Ernst weren't enough to bring Kupcho into contention. Kupcho was not sharp enough to make a run on the lead on Sunday, carding three bogeys and a double bogey en route to a 2-over 74.

Ernst and Kupcho were tied for the lead after each of the first two rounds.

Jenny Coleman, also from the United State, finished third, seven shots back of the winner at 8-under on the strength of a closing-day 71.

South Korea's In Gee Chun shot 69 to finish one shot behind Coleman with a 7-under total of 281, and Switzerland's Albane Valenzuela shot 73 to round out the top five with a 6-under total of 282.

Ernst hit 10 of 14 fairways and 12 greens in regulation, with 28 putts, and with the $225,000 winner's share surpassed the $4 million mark in career earnings. She enjoyed a low-pressure finish on her way to the tournament win.

"I think the difference this week ... was I just fully committed to believing in what I do and that it's good enough," Ernst said. "I think this week proved that it's more than good enough. It was fun to walk up and know that I was going to win. I haven't had that yet, so that was fun."

The 29-year-old from Seneca, S.C., collected her third career LPGA victory and gave the United States three consecutive wins to open a season for the first time since 2007. Ernst followed sisters Jessica Korda (Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions) and Nelly Korda (Gainbridge LPGA) as tournament winners this season.

Nelly Korda, tied with Ernst and Kupcho for the first-round lead, finished tied for 28th after rounds of 76 and 75 over the weekend. Jessica Korda carded a final day 71 to finish in a tie for eighth at 4-under.

Ernst's previous wins were the 2014 Portland Classic and the 2020 NW Arkansas Championship presented by PG.

--Field Level Media

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