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  • Writer's picturePiers Manktelow

The smiling Cinderella wins the hearts of the golfing world.

Hinako Shibuno the 20 year from Japan has won the Women's British Open with a birdie on the 72nd hole. This is her first tournament outside of Japan and she is in her rookie season on the Japan LPGA.

Nicknamed the smiling Cinderella, she won the hearts of the crowds with her constant interaction with the fans, smiling and bowing. On top of that she played some amazing golf the likes the British Open has not witnessed before.

Heading into the final day Shibuno, (-14) had a 2 shot lead over South African Ashleigh Buhai. After Shibuno double bogeyed the 3rd the field was wide open with 5 players tied on -11.

Heading into the back 9 world number 1 Jin Young Ko (above), who won the Evian Championship last week, birdied 10,12 and 13 to pull level on -16 with American Lizette Salas, at the same moment Shibuno, drove the par 4 12th and moved to -15.

Shibuno, then birdied the 13th hole to pull level with Ko and Salas at -16 with 5 holes to play.

Salas, then birdied 15 with a great putt to move 1 shot clear. It was all happening and you couldn't take your eyes away from the action, birdies were flying in everywhere! All six of the players in the final three pairs had a chance to win.

Salas, and Ko, both pared 16 while the 20 year old from Japan rolled in a 10ft birdie putt on 15 to go level with Salas at -17. Salas then hit her approach on 18 to 5ft and had a chance to lead in the clubhouse on -18, however, the putt lipped out. Salas, who was two behind overnight, and probably thought she had done enough to force a playoff with a seven-under 65 final round. Afterwards she said "I'm not going to lie, I was nervous," she said. "I haven't been in that position in a long time. I gave it a good stroke. I controlled all my thoughts. It just didn't drop, so congrats to our winner."

Shibuno, two groups behind hit her approach to the middle of the green and 18ft from the hole. History was then created when she rammed home the putt to become the first Japanese major winner in over 40 years and sending the crowd wild. Knowing she needed a birdie to win she said “I was looking at the board all the time and I knew my position,”

Shibuno, ranked 559 in the world at the start of the year, destroyed the back 9 this week

playing it in 30 twice and 31 on Sunday. Afterwards she said "I cant put into words how i feel, i am hungry and a little nautious". When asked what she would do with her prize money, she cheekily inquired to how much she had won and then said what she will do with her winnings, " i will buy enough sweets to feed me until i die" and went on to say " i feel like i have accomplished something amazing for Japan today, i can't imagine the reaction back home, however, i just want to live a quite life".

Shinuno now has the option to join the LPGA but thinks she will wait until she is ready to leave Japan.

Atthaya Thitikul, of Thailand won the leading amateur for the 2nd year in a row. Thitikul, defeated Yuka Yasuda from Japan who was the only other amateur to make the cut. Thtiikul, finished on -4 and in style with a birdie on her 72nd hole. The 16 year old who has won twice on the LET will now head back to play in the Asian games at the end of the year.

AIG Women’s British Open Final Leaderboard

Hinako Shibuno          -18

Lizette Salas               -17

Jin Young Ko              -16

Morgan Pressel           -15

Ashleigh Buhai           -14

Celine Boutier            -12

Carlota Ciganda          -11

Sung Hyun Park          -10

How did our 4 to watch do.

Jin Young Ko 3rd

Ariya Jutanugarn 11th

Marina Alex 16th

Inbee Park MC

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