Golfer slips past fellow Koreans to capture title in China

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Golfer slips past fellow Koreans to capture title in China

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Kim In-kyung

BEIJING - Kim In-kyung won the Reignwood LPGA Classic on Sunday for her first LPGA Tour victory in six years, making an eagle and a birdie on the two late par 5s to lead a Korean sweep of the top three places.

The 28-year-old Kim shot a 7-under 66 at Reignwood Pine Valley, holing a 25-foot eagle putt on the 16th and a 12-footer for birdie on the 18th for her fourth tour title and first since the 2010 Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Mexico. She also won a Ladies European Tour event last month in Germany.

Kim finished at 24-under 268, a stroke ahead of third-round leader Hur Mi-jung and 2014 winner Lee Mirim in the Asian Swing opener. Playing a group behind Kim in the final threesome, Hur missed a chance to force a playoff when her eagle chip from the back fringe went a foot right.

“I just wanted to play my game. I can’t control anyone else’s game,” Kim said. “I feel good that I was able to play how I wanted to play. Even the result, I really try not to focus on results so much. Then I wouldn’t be able to perform the way I wanted. I chose to play my game and it kind of paid off.”

Kim made up for a bogey on the par-5 ninth - she went for the green in two and ended up short in the water - by playing the other four par 5s in 5 under. She made the eagle on 16 and birdied Nos. 6, 12 and 18. She also birdied the par-4 15th in her late run.

“Fifteen was really big, too,” Kim noted when asked about the eagle on 16.

The 5-foot-3 player was aggressive on 16 after considering laying up.

“I wasn’t sure whether to go for it or not," Kim said. “I felt like today I really played with everything I have. I didn’t really pull back. Even No. 9, I felt was the right club. I think I managed. I played aggressively, which I had to on this golf course. And especially on the back nine, I knew that everybody was going to score, so I wanted to do the same thing."

Hur birdied five of the last six for a 70 in the round, delayed 1 1/2 hours at the start because of rain and lightning. She opened bogey-bogey-birdie-bogey and parred the next eight.

Lee had a 68. She had a double bogey on No. 9, then played the back nine in 6-under 31 with an eagle on the 12th and five birdies.

China’s Shanshan Feng, the 2013 winner in the event that wasn’t played last year, shot a 69 to tie for fourth with Canada’s Brooke Henderson (71) at 21 under. The 19-year-old Henderson, a two-time winner this year, plans to play all six weeks in Asia, a journey that will take her to Taiwan and South Korea over the next two weeks, then back to China for the Blue Bay LPGA at Hainan Island, then onto Malaysia and Japan.

Second-ranked Ariya Jutanugarn shot a 65 to tie for sixth at 18 under and take the lead from the idle Lydia Ko in the player of the year points race. The tour leader with five victories, Jutanugarn had a double bogey on the par-5 sixth, then birdied eight of the last 12 holes - with birdies on the final four par 5s. The Thai player also had a double bogey on a par 5 in a second-round 75 that took her out of contention.

Kim is the sixth South Korean winner this season and the third-oldest winner behind Anna Nordqvist (29) and Brittany Lang (30). Kim earned $310,000 to push her season total to $573,534 and is projected to jump from 42nd to 29th in world rankings.

AP
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