Hee Kyung Seo became the Prudential Rock Solid Performer of the week after winning the KIA CLASSIC Presented by J Golf.
Sponsor's exemption Hee Kyung Seo won her first LPGA event Sunday when she shot a 12-under 276 to win the inaugural KIA Classic Presented by J Golf by a resounding six shots over Inbee Park. Starting the day with a five-shot lead, the 23-year-old Seo shot a final-round 70 that included six birdies and was more than enough to keep her well clear of the field. Her only considerable blemish came when she put a ball in the water on the par-3 16th and made five. Seo seized the tournament lead in the second round and never let go. With the win, she banks $255,000 of the $1.7 million purse. "This is really, really big to me," Seo said. "I think this is turning point of my golf career."
A non-member entering the week, the reigning 2009 Korea LPGA Player of the Year and leading money-winner earned the option of accepting LPGA membership now for the rest of 2010 or for 2011. "I did not decide yet," Seo said at her winner's press conference. "I just want to finish this season well, and then I will think about it. My goal is the KLPGA this year, and then the season after that I will think about it." Seo will play next week's Kraft Nabisco Championship, which she was already qualified for due to her position on last year's KLPGA money list.
Seo, one of three sponsor's exemptions this week, is the first sponsor's exemption to win an LPGA event in more than three years. The last time it happened was October of 2006, when Jin Joo Hong won the KOLON-Hana Bank Championship.
Hee Kyung Seo becomes the 15th non-member in LPGA history to win an LPGA event. The others were: Michiko Okada, 1978 Mizuno-Japan Classic; Tatsuko Ohsako, 1980 Mazda Japan Classic; Nayoko Yoshikawa, 1984 Mazda Japan Classic; Ai-Yu Tu, 1986 Mazda Japan Classic; Laura Davies, 1987 U.S. Women's Open; Yuko Moriguchi, 1987 Mazda Japan Classic; Woo-Soon Ko, 1994-95 Toray Japan Queens Cup; Karrie Webb, 1995 Weetabix Women's British Open; Shi Hyun Ahn, 2003 CJ Nine Bridges Classic Presented by Sports Today; Jee Young Lee, 2005 CJ Nine Bridges Classic Presented by Sports Today; Jin Joo Hong, 2006 KOLON-Hana Bank Championship; Momoko Ueda, 2007 Mizuno Classic; Jiyai Shin, 2008 RICOH Women's British Open, Mizuno Classic, ADT Championship; and Bo Bae Song, 2009 Mizuno Classic.
Will Stacy Lewis defend her 2012 title?
Will Shanshan Feng defend her title?