Already a star in her home country, where she is currently second on the KLPGA Tour’s money list with earnings over A$1.1 million in 2019, Shibuno recovered from early double bogey in today’s final round to finally regain her 54 hole lead with a 20 foot birdie putt at the 72nd hole.
Shibuno held off strong final day challenges from Lizette Salas (2nd) and world number one, Jin Young Ko, (3rd) to secure LPGA Tour status and go a long way towards a self-declared goal of playing the 2020 Olympics in her homeland.
While the LPGA might be a great lure Shibuno has indicated that she would prefer to stay on the JLPGA Tour in the meantime.
"I want to play on the Japanese Tour for now still, but if I ever feel like I want to come overseas, I think that would be the day I will make the decision.
"There was a big reaction after the first day, (back in Japan) so I can't imagine what it will be like after today. Now that I've won, I think a lot of the Japanese people will know me, but in actuality, I just wanted to live a quiet life."
Shibuno felt the pressure of leading into today's final round but explained how the early double bogey might have played into her hands.
"I don't think not many people, include myself, like to be in a situation where you're leading. I feel like it's better to be behind than leading. That was true today, as well and I was able to play easier when I was in that position."
Her current 46th place in the Rolex World Ranking will take a significant leap and given her marvellous all-round game and a now proven capacity to contend and win big events there appears a lot more to come.
For both Salas and Ko they were unable to record the birdies they need late in their rounds after both appeared possible winners before the winner’s closing nine of 31 sealed the deal.
Minjee Lee did best of the Australians fighting her way through the field to eventually finish 11th, while Hannah Green also recovered from a very slow start to the event to share 16th place, Su Oh was 21st and Sarah Kemp 70th.
The LPGA now heads north to Scotland for the Ladies Scottish Open.
Hinako Shibuno, " The Smiling Cinderella" drills the back of the cup for birdie to win the 2019 @AIGWBO!August 4, 2019
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