Second-year LPGA Tour member Hyo Joo Kim took control of the final round of the season-opening Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic and closed with a 7-under 66 to win her third career LPGA Tour title. The 20-year old finished the week at 18-under par and two shots clear of Rolex Rankings No. 3 Stacy Lewis, defending champion Sei Young Kim and Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist.
“I said my goals coming into today was top 10 but obviously it turned out I won, so I’m really happy about that,” Kim said through an interpreter.
Kim went out in 32 and was 4-under through eight holes and started to put the pedal down on the back nine. She birdied the par-3 12th hole to take the outright lead for the first time and went on to birdie Nos. 13 and 14 to extend her lead to three with four holes to play.
But American Stacy Lewis, who was playing one group behind Kim, showed how hungry she was to end her 39-event winless drought and went on a streak of her own with three-consecutive birdies on Nos. 13-15 to cut the lead to two shots.
“Yeah, 7-under’s a great score and I knew it was going to take something like that today on this golf course with less wind,” said Lewis. “You know you needed to shoot a number. Just got off to a bit of a slow start. Making bogey on 8 really hurt, but proud of the way I came back on the back nine and gave myself a chance.”
Kim’s only bogey of the day came on the par 4 16th when she hit her approach shot thin and left it short and right of the green. She chipped it seven feet past the hole and failed to get up and down and dropped a shot to cut the lead to one. Luckily for Kim, she didn’t look at any of the leaderboards until the 18th hole when she extended the lead to two shots again after recovering with an eight-foot birdie putt on No. 17.
“I looked at the leaderboard when I was walking up on the last hole, but I already knew that I had two shots in between me and Stacy,” said Kim. “I knew that on the last hole you can get on in two, so I was a little nervous coming up.”
She said earlier in the week that she wanted to win twice on the LPGA before the Olympics in August. Now that she already has one under her belt, would she maybe shoot a little higher?
“Yeah, well, I’m going to reevaluate my goal,” said Kim. “I want to win three times before the Olympics, so I’ve got one down, two to go now.”