Austin Ernst earns 3rd LPGA title by winning Drive On Championship

Austin Ernst (courtesy LPGA Tour)
Austin Ernst LPGA Tour Winner of LPGA Drive On Championship 3 7 21.mp3

OCALA, Fla. (AP) — Austin Ernst won the Drive On Championship on Sunday, March 7, for her third LPGA Tour title, pulling away to beat fellow former NCAA champion Jennifer Kupcho by five strokes at Golden Ocala.

Tied for the lead with Kupcho after each of the first two rounds and a stroke ahead entering the day, Ernst closed with a 2-under 70 to finish the wire-to-wire victory at 15-under 273.

Kupcho, coming off a closing eagle Saturday, had a double bogey and three bogeys in a 74.

Following sisters Jessica and Nelly Korda in the first two events of the year, Ernst gave the United States three straight victories to open a season for the first time since 2007.

The 29-year-old former LSU star from South Carolina, showing her school spirit Sunday with a purple shirt, also won the 2014 Portland Classic and the 2020 NW Arkansas Championship. She won the NCAA title in 2011.

With brother Drew — a former player at Coastal Carolina — working as her caddie, Ernst birdied Nos. 4-7 to get to 17 under, but dropped back with bogeys on Nos. 12 and 13.

Jenny Coleman made it a 1-2-3 U.S. finish, closing with a 71 to get to 8 under.

Gee Chun of South Korea was fourth at 7 under after a 69. Switzerland’s Albane Valenzuela was another stroke back after a 73.


Professional career

In 2014, Ernst won the Portland Classic on the first playoff hole over In-Kyung Kim.

In August 2020, Ernst won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, for her second LPGA Tour title. In the final round, she shot 8-under 63 for a two-stroke victory over Anna Nordqvist.


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