CARLSBAD - Sweden's Anna Nordqvist captured her second US LPGA title of 2014 on Sunday, firing a final-round 67 to win the Kia Classic by one shot. Nordqvist, whose poor form in 2013 had her contemplating giving up the game, now goes into the first major of the year, the Kraft Nabisco Championship at Rancho Mirage, California, next week, brimming with confidence.
Her five-under effort gave her a 13-under par total 275 at Aviara Golf Club, and a one-shot victory over American Lizette Salas. "I'm still almost shaking right now that I'm standing here with another win," Nordqvist said. In February, the Swede notched a two-shot wire-to-wire victory in the LPGA Thailand, holding off a dramatic late challenge from world number one Park In-Bee.
This time she had to battle back from a disappointing first-round 73. After a second-round 68 she carded back-to-back 67s on the weekend. "It makes me believe a lot more in myself," said Nordqvist, whose only bogey of the day, at 17, came after six birdies. "I couldn't come into the first major of the year in a better position."
Salas started the day tied for the lead with American Cristie Kerr. Salas arrived at the 18th tee tied for second with American Lexi Thompson, but made her third birdie of the day at the final hole to complete a two-under 70 for 276 and sole possession of second place. Thompson's 68 for 277 put her in third and South Korea's Chella Choi carded a 69 for 278 and fourth. Nordqvist opened her round with a birdie, but Salas stayed atop the leaderboard with 12 straight pars, until Nordqvist birdied the eighth and ninth to move ahead. Thompson moved into a share of second with Salas with three straight birdies from the 13th. Thompson claimed the clubhouse lead on 11-under, but Nordqvist pulled away with three birdies in four holes from the 13th.
Despite Nordqvist's bogey at 17, Salas's three birdies at 14, 16 and 18 weren't enough to force a playoff. Kerr bogeyed the last hole for a one-over 73 that left her alone in fifth on 279, while Park led a group on 280 that included fellow South Koreans Pak Se-Ri and Ji Eun-Hee, and American Stacy Lewis.