(Reuters) – Cheyenne Knight scored a rare American success when she won the Volunteers of America Classic by two strokes in north Texas on Sunday.
LPGA Tour rookie Knight sank a tricky 12-foot birdie at the penultimate hole to preserve her lead and she subsequently beat out compatriots Brittany Altomare and Jaye Marie Green at the Old American Golf Club at The Colony.
In the process Knight became only the third United States player to win an individual event on the circuit this year.
It was an unlikely victory by the local resident, who had support from a large gallery of supporting fans for a closing five-under-par 66.
Without a top-25 finish all year, and no recent form to speak of, Knight started the final full-field event of the year knowing a strong result was needed to keep her card for next year.
With perfect timing, everything clicked in the same week as she responded to the pressure in style, posting an 18-under 266 total to secure her medium-term future.
Knight dedicated the win to her brother Brandon, who was killed in a car crash in 2008.
“I know he’s watching down from heaven,” a teary-eyed Knight said in a greenside interview.
“This just means everything, knowing I can persevere and I’m strong enough.”
Knight joins Nelly Korda (Australian Women’s Open) and Lexi Thompson (ShopRite LPGA Classic) as American winners this year, while Cydney Clanton partnered Thailand’s Jasmine Suwannapura to triumph at the Great Lakes Bay Invitational.
South Korean players have captured 13 of 27 individual tournaments, headed by Jin Ko-young’s four victories.
After an off week, the LPGA begins a four-event Asian swing, during which it will play in China, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan, before returning to the U.S. for the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship in Florida.
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina)