May 31st, 2021
Ewing takes inaugural Bank of Hope LPGA Match Play
American beats Sophia Popov in a scrappy final in Las Vegas
Words: GolfPunk Photography: Getty Images
The American took some formidable scalps on the way to the title, including world number six Danielle Kang. On the final day, Ewing defeated former world number one Ariya Jutanugarn by 3&2 and then followed up with the 2&1 victory over Popov.
In a scrappy final where the gruelling week and sweltering heat of Las Vegas seemed to be taking its toll, Ewing took an early advantage and never relinquished the lead. After par was enough to win the 2nd hole, a conceded birdie at the 6th hole gave the American a two-hole lead.
Popov managed to peg it back to one when Ewing made a mess of the 11th. However, the killer punch came at the 14th, where the American hole an outrageous putt from sixty feet for birdie.
After both players found the water at the 15th to halve the hole, Ewing found water again at the short 17th. Popov sadly could not take advantage and a tough break saw her plugged in the face of the greenside bunker.
Popov splashed out over the green and was too heavy with her downhill chip. The result was that Ewing found herself with a three foot putt for a double bogey for a half and the win.
"It was exhausting. I think I was limping in on the finish line really," Ewing said after securing the win.
"Fatigue was definitely a factor. Four rounds of stroke play, 18, 18, 18, 18 is a gruelling week, especially if you're in contention. This week was unlike any other. I'm definitely going to have to tape up the feet I think for another week, but well worth it."
Disappointingly Ariya Jutanugarn did not even have to put on her shoes in the afternoon as her opponent Shanshan Feng conceded the match. Feng had lost to Popov in the semi-final on the final hole and decided enough was enough.
"If I got in the top two, of course, yes, I would play until I fall down on the course, said Feng.
"But I lost the match in the morning, and I think it's a better idea just to get rested after this. Next week is the US Open, it a very hilly and challenging course, so I just want to be well-rested and protect myself."