South Korean Kim In-kyung has captured her first LPGA major title in Scotland.
Kim held off Jodi Ewart Shadoff of England to win the Ricoh Women's British Open by two strokes at Fife, Scotland, on Sunday, after carding a one-under 71 at the par-72 Kingsbarns Golf Links. Kim finished at 18-under 270, one shy of the tournament record in relation to par.
Kim, world No. 21, now has seven career LPGA victories and is the first three-time winner on the tour this year. The 29-year-old is the fifth South Korean champion of the Women's British Open since it became a major in 2001.
This was the fourth LPGA major of the season, and South Koreans have won three of them, with Kim following Ryu So-yeon (ANA Inspiration) and Park Sung-hyun (US Women's Open). The fifth and final major is the Evian Championship in September in France, where South Korean Chun In-gee will be defending her title.
South Koreans have won 12 out of 22 LPGA tournaments so far this year. Kim won the Marathon Classic two weeks ago and her victory marks the fourth straight LPGA victory by a South Korean player.
The record for the most wins by South Koreans in a season is 15 from 2015, when there were 31 tournaments. There are 34 tournaments this year.
Kim took home a $487,500 winner's check which puts her over the $1 million mark for the season for the fourth time in her 11-year career.
After famously missing a one-foot par putt on the 72nd green to blow a chance to win her first major at the 2012 Kraft Nabisco Championship, Kim had particularly struggled at majors. She also went through a six-year LPGA winless drought from 2010 to 2016.
Since last October, though, Kim has won four times, more than any LPGA player in that span.
After rounds of 65, 68 and 66 at Kingsbarns Golf Links, Kim carried a comfortable six-stroke lead into the final round.
Kim had a rousing start to her day as she nearly had an ace on the par-three opening hole. Kim's tee shot landed in front of the green and rolled to about a foot, setting up a tap-in birdie putt that took her to 18-under, seven shots better than the field.
Kim broke a string of six straight pars with a birdie at the par-five eighth, moving to 19-under. But she gave back a stroke right away with a bogey at the ninth, where she found trouble off the tee. It was only Kim's third bogey of the tournament.
Kim saved par at the par-five 11th, thanks to a fine chip after her third shot fell short and left of the green.
Kim caught a bit of a break at the par-three 12th, where her tee shot went long but stopped just shy of a pot bunker. Kim hit a chip with a fairway wood and saved par from close range.
Playing a few groups ahead, Michelle Wie and Jodi Ewart Shadoff made a run. Ewart Shadoff, in particular, reeled off five straight birdies starting at the sixth, and a birdie at the 13th got her to 15-under, three back of Kim.
Wie poured in six birdies on the front nine alone to reach 13-under at the turn, but traded two birdies with a bogey on the back nine to finish at 13-under.
Ewart Shadoff birdied the 17th to get to 16-under, within two of Kim. Ewart Shadoff parred the final hole for a 64, but watched as Kim finished off her victory.
The South Korean parred the first six holes on the back nine.
She just missed draining a lengthy birdie attempt at the par-four 16th to remain at 18-under, and made her seventh straight par at the 17th to take a two-shot lead into the final hole.
Safely on the 18th green in two, Kim came up inches short of a birdie that would have taken her to 19-under, but her ninth consecutive par was enough to secure her first major championship.
Kim has been singing the same tune all week, saying she simply wanted to enjoy herself playing golf. Perhaps the six-stroke overnight lead didn't hurt, but Kim said she woke up at 4:30 a.m.
and went to see the sunrise. She didn't tee off until 3 p.m.
"Mornings here have been wonderful," Kim said in a televised interview afterward. "I really enjoyed staying here this week."
It wasn't always so easy to enjoy a round on the back nine, as Kim's lead dwindled to two strokes down the stretch. Kim said she knew Ewart Shadoff had closed in on her because "the scoreboard was everywhere. I couldn't avoid it."
"Even though I didn't make putts, I gave good efforts," Kim said. "It wasn't easy out there. But the wind was blowing south, and it was downwind coming home (on the back nine). It was helpful."
Kim said her gaffe from 2012 wasn't all for naught because she has learned from the mistake and she has been "so much better with short putts" since then.
But that doesn't mean she expected to win the championship in Scotland.
"I just wanted to be here and compete at this amazing golf course," she said. "This (trophy) is just a bonus." (Yonhap)