In her major debut, A Lim Kim has become a major champion. The 25-year-old from the Republic of Korea birdied her final three holes on Champions Golf Club’s Cypress Creek Course on Monday to surge to -3 and win the 2020 U.S. Women’s Open.
Lim is the seventh player to make a five-stroke comeback in the final round to win the U.S. Women's Open, and the first since Annika Sorenstam in 1995 at The Broadmoor. She is also the first player since Eun Hee Ji in 2009 to birdie the final hole for a one-stroke win.
Rolex Rankings No. 1 Jin Young Ko and first-round leader Amy Olson, playing with a heavy heart after the sudden death of her father-in-law on Saturday, tied for second at -2, with third-round leader Hinako Shibuno in solo third at -1. The final round was completed on Monday after torrential wind and rain on Sunday caused the USGA to suspend play due to course conditions and dangerous weather conditions.
Kim’s victory came in her first appearance in a major championship. With the win, she is eligible to accept immediate Membership on the LPGA Tour.
“I'm very honored to win the 75th U.S. Women's Open. Still can't really soak in that I'm the champion, but it feels different winning the tournament here,” said Kim. “Back in Korea the style and the environment is different. But I'm really glad, and through COVID-19 we had a lot of difficulties, but glad we had the U.S. Women's Open held in Houston. It was a great win.”
Kim started the cold and blustery day at +1, five strokes and three groups behind Shibuno. She made the turn in 3-under 33 but dropped shots at 10 and 11 to fall back to Even. Her surge began with a 9-foot birdie on the par-3 16th, followed by a dialed-in 8-iron approach for a 3-foot birdie at No. 17. She capped her round with a 7-foot birdie at No. 18, punctuated with a hearty fist pump and knuckle bump with her caddie, Daihoun An.
“I've been eyeing the leaderboard throughout the round and I knew how many shots I was back,” said Kim. “That's probably the reason why I tried to hit more aggressive, tried to more attack the pins.”
Olson and Ko both birdied the 18th hole to come up one stroke short of forcing a playoff. Olson played with the hearts of the golfing world in her corner, after the unexpected death of her father-in-law, Lee Olson, on Saturday. She used Sunday’s unexpected off day to rest and gather her thoughts as she headed into one of the most pressure-packed rounds of her career.
“Coming out this morning I had no idea what to expect. It was just one of those things, I felt very weak and helpless the last couple days, and probably same went today on the golf course,” said Olson, who came up short for the third time while playing in the final group at a major. “I really believe the Lord just carried me through.”
After bogeying three of her first four holes, Olson got back on track with birdies at 5 and 6. An ensuing string of nine consecutive pars, combined with the field faltering around her, gave Olson a two-stroke lead through 12 holes. But at the par-3 16th, which she aced in Thursday’s first round, Olson’s tee shot rolled just off the back of the green into an awkward lie and she could not convert the up and down. She finally rammed home a long birdie putt at No. 18 to join Ko in a tie for second.
Shibuno, looking to become the third player to win majors as their first two LPGA Tour titles, also birdied No. 18 to put a positive finish on an otherwise difficult round of 3-over 74. American Megan Khang rounded out the top five at +1.