Korean duo settle for runner-up spots at Canadian open

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Korean duo settle for runner-up spots at Canadian open

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From left, Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand, Kim Sei-young of Korea and her compatriot Chun In-gee at the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in Calgary, Canada, on Sunday. Jutanugarn claimed the title, while Kim and Chun settled for second and third place. [AP/NEWSIS]

Korean golfers Kim Sei-young and Chun In-gee came close to winning another title from the LPGA, but they conceded the top spot to Thai golfer Ariya Jutanugarn on the last day of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in Calgary, Canada, on Sunday, who reeled in seven birdies to claim the trophy.

After Jutanugarn took her fifth title of the season, Kim and Chun had to settle with second and third place at the tournament.

In the final round, Kim chased after Jutanugarn relentlessly, going on a birdie run to nab eight total while bogeying only one hole. She started out the opening frame with a favorable outlook, grabbing a birdie at the par-5 first hole, and carded four birdies total in the first half.

In the second half, Kim started out parring the 10th hole but quickly added a birdie at the 11th hole, nailing in the putt from a distance. Her birdie putt climbed the hill on the green and curled from right to left to settle inside the hole. Going 17-under total, she became the sole runner-up.

At the par-3 15th hole, she took another birdie, second in the latter half and sixth of the day. The birdie started with an astonishing tee shot that landed just a few inches off the pin for a tip-in birdie.

Although she took a bogey at the par-4 16th hole, she ended the day with consecutive birdies at the 17th and 18th holes to finish the round 7-under 65 and the tournament 15-under 269.

Despite her eight-birdie effort, Kim was four strokes behind Jutanugarn before starting the fourth round. By the third round, the Thai golfer led Kim by six shots, which was too big of a gap for her to trim down just in a single round.

Chun, the overnight runner-up who was only two strokes behind Jutanugarn, shot 3-under 69 on Sunday with four birdies and one bogey for a total of 14-under 270 to nab third place for the event.

Like Kim, Chun had just come out of the Olympics last week and was determined to take her second career win in the LPGA at the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open. But the rookie, who also won the 2015 U.S. Women’s Open where she played under invitation, seemed lacking in the final push.

In fact, her lack of strong finishes seems to have haunted Chun throughout the season. She finished within the top 10 in eight tournaments this year, and out of the eight, she had the worst performance in the fourth round.

For instance, during the Honda LPGA Championship in Thailand in late February, Chun went 69-69-66 from the first to third rounds. But in the final round, Chun shot 2-under 70 and had to finish as runner-up behind Lexi Thompson of the United States.

Despite finishing third in Canada, Chun had some remarkable plays. Her putt for par at the 14th hole in round two was listed as one of the highlights of the entire tournament. Chun’s par putt at the hole went on a big swing from left to right from afar to eventually find the hole.

Jutanugarn, who also won the RICOH Women’s British Open that took place in late July, topped world No. 1 Lydia Ko in number of wins this season with five. After missing 10 straight cuts last year during her rookie season, Jutanugarn‘s five wins come from 10 events this year.

The Thai golfer withdrew from the 2016 Rio Olympics due to a bad knee and had carried the injury over to the Canadian Pacific Open. Because of the lingering pain, she said she considered withdrawing from the LPGA event as well.

But she endured and is glad to have done so. “I feel like I’m going to withdraw this week because my knee hurt so bad last week,” Jutanugarn told The Associated Press. “But when I got here on Monday and Tuesday, it’s getting a lot better, and first round it’s fine.”

World No. 1 Ko has had four wins this season in the LPGA, the latest being the Marathon Classic on July 14.

BY CHOI HYUNG-JO [choi.hyungjo@joongang.co.kr]

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