Sei Young Kim wins 1st major at Women’s PGA Championship.
NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. (AP) - Sei Young Kim lined up for the 18th hole putt that would seal their first major LPGA championship and was somehow missed by inches. A member of the gallery - in this case around 75 officials, photographers and course hikers - even said: "She made it."
The 27-year-old South Korean laughed at the rare misstep, guessed the winner and lost the undesirable label of the most successful golfer on the tour without a major. Kim raised her arms "rocky" style, hugged her caddy, and ended up being a great champion.
Kim chewed the Aronimink Golf Club record-breaking and shot a 7-under-63 on Sunday to win the KPMG Women's PGA Championship. She was five strokes better than runner-up Inbee Park, who was never seriously challenged on the grueling course in suburban Philadelphia.
"I'm really hiding my tears right now," she said, standing next to the trophy.
Their dominance was in sight. She finished at 14 under 266. Her final round of 63 set a tournament record and her 266 set the championship record.
Kim, who took her 11th LPGA victory, got the championship boost rolling when she hit a tournament record on Friday with a 29 on the top nine. It never really slowed down.
The only surprise came Sunday when her father appeared on video chat near the end of her press conference.
"See you soon," Kim said with a smile and a wave.
She was, said Park, "really untouchable."
Park, a three-time winner of that championship, shot a 5-under-65. Park won the 2015 Women's PGA Championship, and Kim was in the first group on the course to celebrate with her.
Five years later, it was Kim's time to pick up the trophy.
Kim, a 2016 Olympic gold medalist, finished runner-up at the 2015 PGA Women's Championship and finished second at the 2018 Evian Championship Tie for fourth.
She won the championship with an unforgettable round at Aronimink. Kim's fifth birdie of the day at the par 3-14 gave her a four-shot lead over Park, putting her in at 12 for the championship.
She earned $ 645,000 for the win. Kim has had at least one win in every LPGA Tour season since 2015.
"It was just so hard to believe that she'd never won a major because it felt like she'd won a couple," said Park.
Nasa Hataoka and Carlota Ciganda took third place with 7. Anna Nordqvist (4 under) and Brooke Henderson (3 under) both played in Kim's group and finished fifth and sixth.
Kim is the latest on a growing list of the first big winners of the past few years, a sign of growing parity. Their victory means that nine of the last ten great champions had never won one. She joins Sophia Popov (British Open for Women) and Mirim Lee (ANA Inspiration) as this year's main champion.
Kim dazzled at another event without the roar of the galleries - even though Toronto Raptors star Kyle Lowry walked the course - and held a tough park. Park had three birdies on the top nine as she tried to measure Mickey Wright with a fourth record win in the women's PGA championship.
"I thought 65 will definitely do it," said Park. “I thought maybe 5 to 6 is under a good number for some sort of post and just see what happens. But obviously Sei Young was way better than anyone else out there today. "
When she approached 18 and the trophy was sitting near the hole so she could see, pretty much everyone at Aronimink was lining the ropes. She got a big ovation after her tap-in sealed the win.
Kim waved to the crowd and was doused with champagne as she left the course.
With Paul Fusco in his pocket, Kim set a tournament record on Friday with a 29 on the top nine and a 32 on the top nine on Sunday. Fusco took it easy and even went over to compliment a reporter on a story ("really cool") before Kim tied off in eighth place.
"Before I came to the US, I actually saw Paul and I saw him preparing for every tournament and I told myself I want him in my pocket," said Kim.
Kim hit the putt of her life last November at Tiburon Golf Club, a 25-foot birdie on the final hole of the CME Group Tour Championship, and won $ 1.5 million, the richest award in women's golf history.
At Aronimink, the money is far less - but the prestige of winning a major means so much more.
"I'm not going to lie, I felt the pressure that started last night," said Kim. “I got to the golf course about 30 minutes later than usual. I really tried to be calm through the tournament and the round and I'm glad I made it. "
The tournament was postponed for three months due to the coronavirus pandemic and landed its final round on a full sports Sunday. The PGA of America had to get creative with start times as NBC had other programming commitments over the weekend and those in charge - including Kim - dropped out at 8:49 a.m.
Founded in 1896, Aronimink has hosted a number of significant golf events in its history, including the 1962 PGA Championship won by Gary Player. The Aronimink golf course was designed by Donald Ross in 1926 and will not be on the program until the 2026 PGA Championship.
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