Seo wins Kia Classic for first LPGA Tour title

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Seo wins Kia Classic for first LPGA Tour title


Seo Hee-kyung, of Korea, holds up the trophy after winning the LPGA Kia Classic golf tournament at La Costa in Carlsbad, Calif. on March 28. [AP/YONHAP]

CARLSBAD, Calif. - As Hee Kyung Seo was about to receive the trophy for her runaway win in the inaugural Kia Classic, Michelle Wie was standing near the scorer's tent explaining her latest rules gaffe.

Wie was penalized two strokes for grounding her club in a hazard after hitting out of the water near the 11th green at La Costa, giving her a double-bogey 7. At the time she was five strokes behind Seo, who earned her first LPGA Tour title by shooting a 2-under 70 for a six-stroke victory.

The 23-year-old Seo, who is not a member of the LPGA Tour, received one of the three sponsor's exemptions to get into the tournament. An 11-time winner on the Korean LPGA Tour, she can choose to become an LPGA Tour member this year or next.

Wie likely wouldn't have caught Seo, but the penalty dropped her into a tie for fifth at 4 under.

Had she not been penalized, she would have tied Inbee Park for second.

Despite being in the water, Wie parred the 11th. She was notified of the penalty by LPGA Tour rules official Doug Brecht a few holes later.

"It just doesn't seem right," Wie told Brecht on the course.

After her round, Wie went to a TV truck to review video with officials.

"They interpreted it differently than what I felt," Wie told reporters later, down the hill and around the corner from a grandstand where Seo was getting her trophy on the 18th green. "I knew I did ground the
club. At the same time I knew that I felt off-balance. I closed my eyes and hit the shot and grounded my club so I wouldn't fall into the water while wearing a white skirt.

"I accept it," she added. "I accept the fact that it was a penalty stroke if you ground a club. But the fact is I felt like I was off balance. That's why I grounded the club. That's a rule so there's nothing I
can do about it."

Wie has run up against golf's rule book a number of times.

In her first pro tournament, the 2005 Samsung World Championship, she took a penalty drop for an unplayable lie during her third round. At the end of the tournament, officials ruled she made her drop at the
wrong place and should have taken a two-shot penalty, and disqualified her for signing an incorrect card.

She was also disqualified from the 2008 State Farm Classic for failing to sign her second-round scorecard.

"It's always the kind of thing like, 'Oh, it always happens to me,'" Wie said Sunday, "but it's Murphy's Law, I guess."

Asked about Wie's troubles, Seo said: "No, I didn't care about that."

Maybe that's because she seemed to have so little trouble negotiating a long course that almost everyone else struggled with, especially when the breeze kicked up.

After opening with a 70, Seo took the lead with a second-round 67 and had a 69 on Saturday en route to a 12-under 276 total.

"I can't stop smiling," she said. "I just feel so good and happy."

The only real blemish on her round was a double bogey when she hit into the water on the par-3 16th. She had six birdies and two bogeys.

"It was difficult to me, too," Seo said. "This week I had very good swings, I think."

Seo earned $255,000. On Friday, she said she saw a nice house on No. 14 that she'd like to buy.

Someone must have filled her in on California real estate prices.

"I think I need to earn more, lots of money," she said.

South Koreans swept the top four spots, with Inbee Park (65) finishing second, and Jiyai Shin (70) and Jee Young Lee (70) tying for third at 5 under.

With the victory, Seo has the option to join the LPGA Tour or remain as a nonmember for the current season, then join next season. She said she'll probably finish the season on the KLPGA Tour and think about it in the offseason.

Regardless, she's in the field for the season's first major, the Kraft Nabisco Championship next week in Rancho Mirage, based on her spot on the KLPGA money list last year.

Related Korean Article

“신지애와 각자 연습에 몰두하느라 잘 마주치지 못해 아쉽다”, “패션모델 별명? LPGA 예쁜 선수들 많아 난 끼지도 못할 것”

여유있는 우승이었다. 3라운드를 마치고 이미 2위에 5타나 앞서 있던 서희경은 28일 4라운드에서도 2타를 줄이며 단독 2위 박인비에 6타 앞선 압도적 승리를 거뒀다. 마지막 18번홀에서 차분히 파 퍼팅을 성공시킨 서희경은 두 팔을 들어 올려 활짝 웃으며 LPGA 투어 첫 승의 기쁨을 만끽했다. 다음은 서희경과의 일문일답이다.

-오늘 경기가 전반적으로 어땠는가.

“샷은 나흘 경기 중 제일 불안했다. 그래서 마지막엔 해저드에 볼도 빠트렸는데 그래도 나름대로 온 안된 것 치고는 칩 인 버디가 두 개가 나왔다. 운이 좋았던 것 같다.”

-잘 된 샷은 어떤 것이었나.

“퍼팅이 잘됐다. 나가기 전에는 불안불안 했는데 1번홀 보기 후 바로 감을 찾았고 자신있게 했다.”

-우승 소감은.

“꿈 꿔왔던 일이 이렇게 실제로 일어나니까 얼떨떨하다. 아무생각 없다. 꿈을 꾸는 듯 하다.”

-LPGA 첫 우승을 빨리 한 것 같다. 예상했나.

“지난해 경험도 있고 해서 어느 정도 잘 할 수 있을 것이란 기대는 했지만 이렇게 우승까지 이어질 것이란 생각은 못했다. 막상 우승하니까 너무 기쁘다.”

-우승을 하게 된 결정적 계기는 1~4라운드 중 어디였나.

“3라운드에 타수 줄인 게 컸다.”

-한국에서 한 단계 성장했을 때 신지애의 도움 많이 받았다고 했는데, 이번 대회 때 얘기 좀 나눴나.

“각자 연습에 몰두하느라 잘 마주치지 못했다. 아쉽다.”
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