Republic of Korea’s Hyo Joo Kim captured her fifth career LPGA Tour title on Saturday, shooting a final-round 71 to reach -11 and win the 2022 LOTTE Championship by two strokes over Hinako Shibuno of Japan. Kim, who started the day with a three-stroke advantage, bogeyed the par-3 17th to drop her lead to just one. But Kimg executed a superb pitch from off the green at No. 18 at Hoakalei Country Club, leaving herself a 2-foot birdie putt to take the victory.
“I'm proud of that shot,” said Kim. “Maybe I made a lot of people like sit on the edge of their chairs, so I felt great about it.”
Kim always kept just a step of ahead of Shibuno, who carded two birdies in the final round for a bogey-free 70. That clean scorecard was not enough to earn Shibuno her first win since the 2019 AIG Women’s Open, who pointed to the greens as her downfall this week.
“I was having very fun playing with (Kim),” said Shibuno, who earned her best LPGA Tour finish since her major victory at Woburn. “My putting was a little, you know, couldn't go in, so that was the difference with her.”
Kim’s countrywoman Hye-Jin Choi shot a final-round 69 to take solo third at -7, her best LPGA Tour finish since a tie for second at the 2020 ISPS Handa Vic Open as a non-Member. South African Ashleigh Buhai finished fourth at -6, with Korea’s Somi Lee rounded out the top five at -5.
Californian Brianna Do, who earned a spot in the tournament via the local qualifier on Sunday, played in the final group with Kim and Shibuno but could not recapture the magic that had been with her all week. With a 5-over 77 on Saturday, Do fell into a tie for 12th. Allisen Corpuz, the only Hawaii resident in the field, finished in a tie for 18th at -1 overall.