Kim doesn’t let this one es­cape

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SCOREBOARD -

ST. AN­DREWS, Scot­land — I.K. Kim ban­ished the haunt­ing mem­ory of miss­ing a 14-inch putt to win a ma­jor and re­placed it with the sweet­est sen­sa­tion.

Fi­nally, she can call her­self a ma­jor cham­pion.

Staked to a six-shot lead in the Women’s Bri­tish Open, Kim never let any­one get closer than two shots at Kings­barns Links and sealed vic­tory with a bold hy­brid over the burn to the 17th green. She made nine pars on the back nine and closed with a 1-un­der 71 for a two-shot vic­tory.

“I can­not de­scribe my feel­ings,” Kim said. “I just tried to have some fun, but it wasn’t fun on the back nine.”

Jodi Ewart Shad­off made her work for it by charg­ing home with a 64 to put pres­sure on the South Korean. Kim, 29, didn’t fal­ter over an in­creas­ingly soggy course, how­ever. She fin­ished at 18-un­der 270 to cap­ture the championship.

Michelle Wie went out in 30 to give Kim some­thing to think about, but the 27-yearold stalled and closed with a 66 to tie for third with Caroline Mas­son (67) and Ge­or­gia Hall (70).

Kim now has won three times, the most by any­one on the LPGA Tour this year, all in the last two months.

But this was the big­gest by far.

She was no more than 14 inches away from win­ning the 2012 Kraft Nabisco Championship for her first ma­jor when she clasped her hand over her mouth in dis­be­lief when it spun out of the hole. She lost in a play­off, and it was a tough mem­ory to shake. Un­til Sun­day.

“I al­most cried when I won. Win­ning is great,” Kim said. “It’s a long process to get over 2012. A lot of peo­ple helped me. Now I en­joy play­ing golf again. What it did teach me is to give the same ef­fort to ev­ery shot, even the short­est of putts.”

Armed with a six-shot overnight ad­van­tage, Kim was rarely threat­ened through­out a four-and-a-half hour round in which she cru­cially made only one bo­gey.

Ewart Shad­off matched the course record — reached ear­lier this week by Wie and Olympic gold medal­ist In­bee Park — and got within two shots of Kim with her eighth birdie of the round that put her at 16 un­der.

“I didn’t think start­ing the day that I would have a shot,” she said. “I had a great stretch in the mid­dle of the round to get me go­ing. My plan at the start was just to take the op­por­tu­ni­ties when I got them and that’s what I did.”

Wie was the only other player to get closer than five shots of Kim.

Seem­ingly im­per­vi­ous to the pres­sure of lead­ing, Kim sailed along in the damp, over­cast con­di­tions, her steady play of­fer­ing lit­tle en­cour­age­ment to a chas­ing pack that also in­cluded the likes of Lexi Thomp­son, Stacy Lewis (Arkansas Ra­zor­backs),

Park and Moriya Ju­tanu­garn.

A birdie at the par-3 open­ing hole, where her tee-shot nearly found the bot­tom of the cup, set Kim on her way. She made birdie on the par5 eighth, and then had her first bo­gey in 44 holes with a three-putt at the turn.

Kim’s clinch­ing shot, how­ever, came as late as the penul­ti­mate hole, when a beau­ti­fully struck hy­brid from the fair­way sailed over the burn fronting the green and fin­ished 15 feet from the flag. A rou­tine par at the last com­pleted her five-year jour­ney be­tween miss­ing and mak­ing.

Lewis fin­ished in a tie for sev­enth at 11 un­der and won $79,197.

AP/KENNY SMITH

Korea’s I.K. Kim putts for birdie on the third hole Sun­day on her way to win­ning the Women’s Bri­tish Open at Kings­barns Golf Links at St. An­drews, Scot­land.

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