She sure does have a knack for the dramatic.
Sei Young Kim sank a seven foot birdie putt on the final hole to win the Blue Bay LPGA in China for her third victory of the season.
“Yeah, I was really nervous,” said Kim. “I just focus, and when I hit the putt, I couldn’t believe it.”
The course and conditions were incredibly tough this week, with only four players finishing par or better. It was all about survival for Kim, who entered the final round tied for the lead. She was even par through 12 holes, but the conditions seemed easier on Sunday than they have been all week. Stacy Lewis, who was playing with Kim, began to make a charge up the leaderboard, and took a two shot lead with a birdie on 11. Kim, however, would make a charge of her own, as she birdied 13 and 14 following as bogey by Lewis on 13. With the back nine playing much more difficult, all Kim needed to do was par out to win her third LPGA victory, but she made it more difficult on herself with a bogey on the 17th. Entering the final hole tied with three others, Kim did exactly what she needed to do to walk away with the Blue Bay LPGA trophy.
This is not the first time Kim used some late round heroics to pick of an LPGA Tour victory. In her second event on Tour, she birdied the 72nd hole to force a playoff, then birdied the playoff hole for her first victory. At the LPGA Lotte Championship, Kim holed a chip shot from off the green on the 72nd hole, then holed her second shot from the fairway in the playoff to beat Inbee Park. In beating Lewis and Park, Kim has now stared down two of the best in the world, and walked away a winner.
Kim's victory all but secures the Rookie Of The Year Award for the Korean. Her nearest competitor, Hyo Joo Kim, withdrew in the middle of the tournament, and it appears that another rookie would have to win all three of the remaining tournaments to pass Sei Young.
Lewis' tie for second is her 13th top 10 of the season. She is currently third in the Race For the CME Globe, the highest ranking by a non-winner. If Lewis is unable to win any of the remaining three events, she will go winless for the first time in five years.
Also finishing one shot back of Kim was 54 hole co-leader Candie Kung. Kung shot a one under par in the final round, but two bogeys in the middle of her round took away all of her momentum. This is Kung's fourth top 10 of the season. She is still searching for her first victory in eight years.
The final player at T2 was Kim Kaufman, who notches only her second top 10 of the season. Her previous was a T10 finish several months ago. Kaufman, who was a rookie on Tour last season, had only four top 10s entering this tournament, and has yet to win on Tour. This finish should give Kaufman a lot of momentum entering the final tournaments of the season.
There was a four stroke different between the players who finished at T2 and those who finished at T5. Among those in that group were Xi Yu Lin of China, who picks up her second straight top 10 finish, and third in four weeks. Also finishing at that mark were Sandra Gal, who picks up her first top 10 since competing in the Solheim Cup, and Alena Sharp of Canada, who picks up her second top 10 of the season.
In her first start in her most recent reign as Rolex Number One, Lydia Ko finished T8. The bigger story, however, is the Rolex Number Two, Inbee Park. Park withdrew in the middle of the first round citing a finger injury, and there is a chance she may sit out for the rest of the season. That would be a huge disappointment for Park, who has had an incredibly solid season, but could not stop Ko from taking over the top spot. It also means Ko's biggest competition for a second straight CME Globe title will be on the sidelines.