Republic of Korea native Sei Young Kim had a banner day on Saturday at the CPKC Women’s Open, firing a 5-under 67 that saw her make an ace, an eagle, three birdies and two bogeys at Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club. Kim began the day in a tie for sixth and opened her round with six consecutive pars, finally breaking through with a birdie on the par-5 7th hole. She then recorded the second hole-in-one of her life on the next, acing the par-3 8th hole from 184 yards with a 5-iron, recording the 12th hole-in-one of the 2023 LPGA Tour season. She followed that up with a birdie on No. 9 that helped Kim turn in 32 and move to 7-under overall.
The 30-year-old slipped up with a bogey on 10, erasing that mistake with a birdie on 13 not long after. The major champion then drove the green on the short, par-4 14th hole and buried her mid-range eagle putt to move to 9-under and grab a two-shot lead with four to play. She made three straight pars from holes 15 to 17, closing with a disappointing bogey on the last to post a 67 and sit at 8-under, three back of the lead held by Megan Khang, who birdied four of her last five holes to charge ahead.
The score ties her second-lowest round of the 2023 LPGA Tour season and is her lowest score to par since Kim shot a 5-under 66 in the third round of the Dana Open in July. It’s the second time this season that the 12-time LPGA Tour winner has been within five shots of the lead entering the final round – she was three shots back through 54 holes at the LPGA Drive On Championship at Superstition Mountain – and Kim is looking forward to contending once again, especially considering the struggles she’s faced this season.
“I feel great. Great because I had couple shots really good. Hole in one and hole 14 I had eagle. That's a wonderful day today. Yeah, feels awesome,” said Kim, who hasn’t won on the LPGA Tour since the 2020 ANNIKA driven by Gainbridge at Pelican. “When I played the pro-am with the member, he's very aggressive player, he recommend me this course go for it you got the advantage. That help me a lot. Just enjoying. Keep the play what I can do. Yeah, and then I just do my best what I can do.”
This week marks Kim’s seventh start in the CPKC Women’s Open, and in her six previous appearances, she has missed one cut and recorded three top-10 finishes, including a tie for third that came in 2015 and a solo second that came in 2016. She finished in a tie for ninth at Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club in 2022. This is her 15th event of the 2023 LPGA Tour season, and so far this year, she has one withdrawal, three missed cuts and one top-15 finish, a T13 at the U.S. Women’s Open, an uncharacteristically blasé resume from the 2020 Rolex Player of the Year. Kim isn’t usually a player who struggles to find herself in contention – she has 52 top 10s on the LPGA Tour along with her 12 victories – so after what’s been a difficult year, she is relishing this opportunity to chase after her 13th career Tour title.
“This year is not good so I just need something better play, and so I just working hard,” Kim said. “After the British Open and back to the Dallas, so I am working hard. Yeah, especially I played Canada, it's my favorite place always play good. I have good memories when I'm back here.”
No matter what happens in the final round, this week in Vancouver, British Columbia will be something that Kim always remembers because of her incredible ace on No. 8 on Moving Day. It’s her first hole-in-one since she aced the par-3, 11th hole at the 2021 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G and is the second ace of both her life and her LPGA Tour career, one sweet double-circle on the scorecard that gave her goosebumps and helped propel her into contention.
“Right after hole 7 I made a birdie, so I feel like really excited after birdie, so I try to calm down,” said Kim. “That hole kind of is not easy because to the pin is 160 meters. I took the 5-iron and hit the really solid. It looks like really beautiful ball flight. I was like, yeah, that must be good, but people are like loud and they all clap and so I was like that might be got in the hole. So that is second hole in one in my life.”
In honor of Kim’s ace, the CME Group will contribute $20,000 to the CME Group Cares Challenge – Score 1 for St. Jude campaign, a season-long charitable giving program that turns aces into donations with a minimum guaranteed donation of $500,000 to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, which is leading the way in how the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and life-threatening diseases. Today’s hole-in-one is the 12th of the season, raising the 2023 donation total to $240,000.