South Korea’s Sei Young Kim holes out from fair­way to win in Hawaii

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY ANN MILLER

Sei Young Kim holed out from 154 yards for ea­gle to win the LPGA Tour’s Lotte Cham­pi­onship on the first hole of a play­off Satur­day with In­bee Park.

Her third most mem­o­rable shot might have come on the 18th in reg­u­la­tion.

Mo­ments af­ter sink­ing a sneaky par putt on 17 to stay even with Park, Kim hit her drive into the wa­ter.

Kim’s ap­proach shot in reg­u­la­tion barely cleared the wa­ter, but stayed in the fringe fronting the green. Af­ter Park hit a bril­liant lag putt to inches for a par to stay at 11 un­der, Kim chipped in from 18 feet to force the play­off.

She held both hands high, stared into the sky and grinned for the first time af­ter 5 hours of im­mense pres­sure, slap­ping hands with her cad­die.

In the play­off, star­ing into the set­ting sun at breezy Ko Olina, Kim hit an ap­proach that barely got over the wa­ter again, then bounced twice and dropped into the hole for ea­gle.

Kim couldn’t see the ball go in and nei­ther could Park, but the roar from the crowd made it ob­vi­ous. Park’s at­tempt to match Kim’s shot, and win her 14th LPGA ti­tle, came up short.

It was an as­ton­ish­ingly quick end­ing to a drain­ing day.

Kim closed with a 1-over 73 in wind gust­ing to 30 mph to match Park at 11-un­der 277. Park fin­ished with a 71. I.K. Kim bo­geyed the fi­nal two holes for a 74 that left her two strokes back.

The three play­ers were tied for the lead with two holes left in reg­u­la­tion.

I.K. Kim, try­ing to win an LPGA event for the first time since 2010, bo­geyed the 17th, three-putting af­ter con­vert­ing clutch putts all day. Park sank her par putt from 20 feet to get up and down from a bunker, and Sei Young Kim drained a twist­ing down­hill 16-footer to keep pace.

It turned out to be the next-to-last op­por­tu­nity, and when she saved par on the 18th to force the play­off, she wasted no time tak­ing the US$270,000 first prize that bumped her to No. 1 on the money list.

She’s the first two-time win­ner on the LPGA Tour this year, af­ter tak­ing the Ba­hamas event — also in a play­off — in Fe­bru­ary in her sec­ond start as a tour mem­ber.

Par­tic­u­larly af­ter her last tour­na­ment. Kim took a three-shot lead into the fi­nal round of the ANA In­spi­ra­tion two weeks ago, shot 75 and tied for fourth.

Hyo Joo Kim (69) and Chella Choi (72) tied for fourth at 7 un­der as South Korean play­ers swept the first five places. Ger­man San­dra Gal (69) fin­ished sixth at 6 un­der.

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