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Gaby Lopez wins first LPGA Tour title

Lopez another Mexican making her mark on the LPGA Tour (Photo: Getty Images Jhe Ji)
Mexico’s Gaby Lopez has upset predictions with a narrow but impressive one-shot victory over world number one Ariya Jutanugarn at the Blue Bay LPGA event on Hainan Island off the southern coast of China.

Lopez has gained an edge on the field with her brilliant third round of 66 and when Jutanugarn looked to have blown her chances with an opening nine of 40 Lopez was seemingly on track to win her first LPGA Tour title.

Jutanugarn though would fight her way back into the event with a back nine of 33 and Lopez felt the pinch with bogeys at her final two holes to just hold on.

For Lopez it was a memorable moment in her young career in which there must be surely many more victories to come.

“It's been a tough year firstly because I got an injury at the beginning of the year that took me out of play for about six weeks,” said Lopez.

“It wasn't fun. I thought that this day actually was going to come a long time from now. It's been so great. So special to the course with No. 1 and No. 2 players in the world.

“I think I'm speechless.”

Lopez is a proud Mexican and paid special tribute after her win to the role one of the modern game’s greatest female golfers and fellow countrywoman, Lorena Ochoa, has played in her career to date.

“Lorena has been my mentor every since I turned pro. You know, she's been my inspiration for my whole life. I'm just very, very happy that I'm getting another win for Mexico.

“That's why I wear green, white, and red on Sundays, because I've been dreaming of this moment my whole life. Representing Mexico, it's probably the biggest honour.”

France’s Celine Boutier, a rookie on the LPGA Tour, produced the round of the day (66) and finished one shot back in 3rd place while Sei Young Kim and Danielle Kang tied for 4th.

Sarah Jane Smith improved with a final round of 69 to tie West Australian Hannah Green as the leading Australian in 15th place with Su Oh 22nd.

The LPGA Tour now heads back to the US after six weeks in Asia, the final event of the year the CME Group Tour Championship being played in Naples, Florida this week.

72 leading players from the Race to the Globe Series points list will compete in Naples with Australians Minjee Lee, Katherine Kirk, Su Oh, Sarah Jane Smith and Hannah Green amongst them.

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