IN GEE CHUN CAPTURES THIRD CAREER VICTORY ON HOME SOIL
With a final-round 66, In Gee Chun captured her first LPGA Tour victory of the season at the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship on Sunday at SKY72 Golf & Resort, Ocean Course. The 24-year-old South Korean native carded seven birdies, along with a lone bogey, to finish three strokes clear of 54-hole leaders Charley Hull, who placed second, and Danielle Kang, who was four shots adrift.
“Before this week, I won 13 times as a professional,” said Chun, who clinched the third LPGA win of her career. “I am glad that I am done with the No. 13. I really hate that number.”
Sung Hyun Park tied for third, ending the week level with Kang, Minjee Lee and Ariya Jutanugarn.
EMOTIONAL VICTORY FOR CHUN
In Gee Chun shed tears on Sunday in relief after claiming her first win on the LPGA Tour since 2016 The Evian Championship. Since then, Chun expressed that she had experienced a difficult time reacting to negative comments about her form shared on the internet and rumors that spread about her every move.
“I was really frustrated with myself for responding or reacting to those comments on line, and so I think that there was a factor there that pushed me down, and I didn't want to get back up again. I was kind of scared because I didn't know how I would act in front of people again, but then I didn't want to act like somebody else. I always wanted to be true to myself and I wanted to be a genuine person,” Chun said openly during her winner’s press conference.
Chun, who was a member of the triumphant Team Korea at last week’s UL International Crown, also shed tears when talking about how much this win meant to her and her family, particularly how excited she was to share this heartfelt victory with her ailing grandmother.
“My grandma, it used to be part of her daily life to watch me play,” said Chun, whose grandmother has been hospitalized for the past few months. “I really, really wanted a win so I can tell her I won, and I wanted to tell her that I loved her. I'm really happy today that I was able to win and that I can tell her, and I'm sure that she's happy for me at the hospital.”
TITLE-HUNGRY HULL FALLS SHORT, SETTLES FOR SECOND PLACE
It was a case of so close but so far for England's Charley Hull, who began the final round of the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship in a two-way tie for the lead but ultimately had to settle for outright second place - three strokes behind the triumphant In Gee Chun - after closing with a 1-under 71 on Sunday. In pursuit of a second career win on the LPGA Tour, Hull briefly closed to within two of the lead with three holes to play but then bogeyed the par-four 16th as her title bid effectively ended.
"On 16, I hit a decent tee shot. Was in the drainage ditch and had to drop it in the first cut. Hit a really good pitching wedge to the green and couldn't manage to hold it, and then it was a weird lie. I was in like a little bit of a divot on the 16th green and then chipped it and nearly holed the putt. Oh, well. I'm pretty happy with that result. But this week was a lot of fun. I've been playing pretty well so far this season. Had a bit of a quiet spell through like the Women's British Open and stuff but I feel like my game is in really good condition right now."
Hull, who has recorded six top-10s this year in 21 starts on the LPGA Tour, now heads off to China for next week's Buick LPGA Shanghai and will also play in Japan before ending her 2018 season at the CME Group Tour Championship.
"I definitely have a win in my sights," she said. "I've had a third this year and now a second and quite a few top-10 places, so hopefully, yeah, that second victory on the LPGA Tour is around the corner."
ROUSING FINISH TO THE WEEK BY DEFENDING CHAMPION KO
Jin Young Ko ended her title defense at this week's LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship in impressive fashion as she matched the lowest round of the tournament with a superb 8-under 64 in Sunday's final round at SKY72 Golf & Resort. Ko, who was a KLPGA player when she won the title last year by two shots, birdied four of the last seven holes to finish alone in seventh place at 11-under.
"I started off really well today," said Ko, who clinched the second LPGA Tour victory her career at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open in February. "I birdied the first hole and then I just got into the rhythm of things quite naturally. Today my goal was even if I three-putted a hole, I just wanted to be able to get enough distance on my putts because I've been thinking that the greens are really slow. All my putts had sort of fallen short throughout the rounds ... so today, I was thinking even if I three-putt a hole, I just want my putts to go a little bit more. Thinking that, that was just the right distance, so I was able to grab more birdies."
Ko now plans to enjoy herself for the rest of the LPGA Tour's Asian Swing, though she does have one lofty target in mind for the $2.5 million season-ending CME Group Tour Championship in Naples: "The ultimate goal would be to win the CME and take away that huge purse, that's my ultimate dream. More realistically, I just want to be able to have fun and be happy with the remaining events, and through those events I hope to be able to really gain an understanding of what's not working for me now so that I can improve for next season."
- 2017 LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship defending champion Jin Young Ko shot a bogey-free 8-under 64 in the final round on Sunday, hitting 14 of 14 fairways and 18 of 18 greens
- Jane Park was the only other player to shoot an 8-under 64 in the third round; she finished T44
- Six of the players in the top 10 played in last week’s UL International Crown at Jack Nicklaus Golf Course Korea
- Players in the top 10 represent six different countries (Republic of Korea, England, Australia, Thailand, USA and Japan)