Ocean Club Golf Course
Paradise Island, Bahamas
February 8, 2015
Rolex Rankings No. 40 Sei Young Kim (-14) | Part 2
Rolex Rankings No. 100 Ariya Jutanugarn (-14)
Rolex Rankings No. 1 Lydia Ko (-11)
It’s been 10 years since 22-year old Sei Young Kim had dreamt of the exact moment of hoisting an LPGA Tour trophy. The 2015 LPGA Tour rookie beat major champion Sun Young Yoo and fellow rookie Ariya Jutanugarn in a one-hole playoff at the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic. Kim becomes the first Rolex First-Time Winner of the season and adds the victory to her five career KLPGA wins.
“It’s definitely a dream,” said Kim. “I’m really happy. Since 10 years ago it’s what I’ve dreamed of.”
Kim finished the third round on Sunday morning with a 1-under 72 and started the final round on at 9-under par and two shots off the third-round leaders, Sun Young Yoo and Inbee Park.
She birdied three of her first five holes to jump up the leaderboard before her only bogey of the round on the par 4 8th hole. Kim said she didn’t look at a single leaderboard all day until the 18th tee. Heading into the final hole, Kim was 13-under par with Yoo and Jutanugarn in the clubhouse at 14-under par. A chip from the front greenside rough to three feet set up a birdie putt to earn a spot in the playoff.
Kim has been no stranger to playoffs in her professional career and played in five during her five-year career on the KLPGA, winning four of them. She said she didn’t feel nervous on the 18th tee to start the playoff but started to feel the pressure standing over her final four-foot birdie putt.
“Just before the last putt I was super nervous, but I was fine,” said Kim.
Kim becomes the second-consecutive South Korean to win this year on the LPGA Tour, joining compatriot Na Yeon Choi as winners to open the 2015 season.
Kim was surprised with her first career victory on Sunday and said that her goal this week was a top-10 finish. She came into this week coming off a missed cut at the Coates Golf Championship. But a top-10 was just the tip of the iceberg of what the 22-year old wanted to accomplish by moving her career to the LPGA from Korea.
“I joined the LPGA in hopes of making the Korean Olympics team, and this is one step towards that, so this means a lot to me,” said Kim.
She’s projected to move from No. 40 to No. 23 in the Rolex Rankings. Q Baek is currently the fourth and final Korean player in the Olympic rankings at No. 11 in the Rolex Rankings.
KO KEEPS NO. 1 RANKING
It looked like Lydia Ko may only hold the No. 1 spot in the Rolex Rankings for one week, but a 5-under 68 and a tie for seventh finish was enough to hold on to the honor for another week. No. 2 Inbee Park shot 1-under 72 in the final round on Sunday and finished in a tie for fifth, not enough to unseat Ko.
“I wasn’t really thinking about it all week. It was great to have the starter say, from New Zealand, Rolex ranking No. 1, and that was really great,” said Ko. “I think it’s only going to last for this week, but Inbee has played great and so have other girls. All I could do the last two days was just try my best and try and shoot a good score today.”
Ko said she kept an eye on the projections throughout the week but tried to keep her focus on birdie opportunities and dropping putts.
“I saw the news or like the projections and how it would change, but I didn’t really think about it,” said Ko. “To me it was more important trying to make a lot of good putts and a lot of good birdies.”