A walkoff birdie gave Christel Boeljon a comeback victory over So Yeon Ryu in the Gold Coast RACV Australian Ladies Masters today, ruining the hopes of headline writers around the world who had designs on showcasing the LPGA's 2012 Rookie of the Year race between American Lexi Thompson (winner of the LET's last event of 2011) and South Korean Ryu (heavily-favored player to win the LET's 1st big event of 2012 after her 2nd-round 61). Actually, Boeljon was tied at -20 with Ryu, Ha-Neul Kim, and Diana Luna, but used her length to reach the par-5 18th in 2 and her guts to save a 2-putt birdie with a clutch 5-footer. Meanwhile, Ryu failed to get up-and-down from a greenside bunker and had to settle for a tie for 2nd place, 9 shots ahead of her American ROY rival, who was outduelled for low American standing by a resurgent Danielle Kang. Now the question of who's best in the LPGA's Class of 2011 is suddenly a lot more open: can Hee Kyung Seo, who garnered ROY honors last season, stay ahead of Boeljon, who beat her by 13 shots this week, all coming in the last 54 holes?
Meanwhile, the other final-round races proved almost as interesting as the race to the top of the leaderboard. A trio of dual LPGA/LET members garnered some serious momentum for next week's LPGA 2012 debut at the Women's Australian Open, as Gwladys Nocera, Caroline Hedwall, and Karine Icher closed with sparkling 64s. LPGAer Lindsey Wright went 66-68 on the weekend to tie the JLPGA's Nikki Campbell for low Aussie honors and match the low American, Kang, at -13 for the week. Carlota Ciganda thumped Maria Hernandez for low Spaniard by 5 shots, even as Julieta Granada beat out Mariajo Uribe for low South American by 3 shots and Nontaya Srisawang held off Titiya Plucksataporn by 1. Last but not least, Thompson ended up beating 14-year-old Lydia Ko, the winner of last week's ALPG event, by 5 shots.
So the table is set for next week's Women's Australian Open, with both Ryu and Thompson having something to prove in their 1st official LPGA events as members of the rookie class of 2012. Boeljon will attempt to make up ground on Seo on the LPGA. And all of them will be hoping to show that they can hang with Ya Ni Tseng and the rest of the LPGA's heavy hitters better in the new season than last one.