HOYLAKE, England -- It was getting darker by the minute on what had been a horrific last day, but when it came to the final hole, there was a stunning shaft of evening sun as Jiyai Shin completed her record 9-shot win at the Women's British Open.
It was the best of finishing touches. Shin, who had won a nine-hole playoff Monday at Kingsmill before arriving at Hoylake on Tuesday, was exhausted but ecstatic. Apart from winning by such a handsome margin, she was 9 under par and had proved herself on a links course.
"I was so happy my game stood up,'' she said. "My goal was to be 1 under par every day. I was surprised, inspired by myself. It was really tough."
Not only did her game stand up, it dominated. The previous record for margin of victory was 5 strokes, set by Karen Stupples in 2004.
Shin, a 24-year-old from South Korea, described her 2008 win in the British at Sunningdale as one life-changing experience, and this week's triumph was another. Before Kingsmill, she had not won in two years, and she'd had hand surgery earlier this season, which kept her out for a couple of months.
Her confidence dwindled to nothing during that period, but thanks to these twin wins, the tank is now full.
Shin took a 5-shot lead into Sunday's 36 holes and was concerned when it was reduced to 2, "but I keep in mind about how, OK, I'm still in the lead, I'm still 2 shots ahead. So I stayed calm and I kept talking to myself."
Because of the two rounds, there was no lingering over lunch. The groups had to make do with a light snack in the recorder's area before heading back to the first tee.
Officials had allowed for a 15-minute break, and all worked according to plan until it came to the last group of Shin, Inbee Park and Mika Miyazato. The party had kept up for 16 holes, but when it came to the par-4 17th, things went awry.
Shin, at that point, was in the lead at 10 under par, while the others, who were meant to be chasing her, were 6 under and 5 under.
Chasing was hardly the right word.
Park and Miyazato each had double-bogey 6 to Shin's bogey on the 17th. There was no referee timing the party at this stage, only a concerned spectator who kept looking at his watch to see whether they would be back at base before the time they were due to start the fourth round.
They made it with four minutes to spare, and though they were expecting a quiet word from officialdom, they were awarded an extra 10 minutes. Even at that, they were among those who took their lunches with them for the start of the final round, placing cups of soup and boxes of noodles to the side while they teed off.
Shin started the round with a triple-bogey, but since Karrie Webb, her closest pursuer at that point, dropped two, Shin had no reason to panic. She put the error behind her and more than made up for any lost ground with birdies at the sixth and seventh.
Even the weather, the worst she had ever known, could not upset Shin's phlegmatic approach.
"It was the worst, but it was really fun because it was a challenge,'' she said. "I was really surprised they keep pushing to finish today, but it was a great experience."