Rookie Sei Young Kim Wins Pure Silk-bahamas LPGA Classic

Sei Young Kim with her trophy on Paradise Island, The Bahamas - Photo: Gabe Roux

Paradise Island, Bahamas – LPGA rookie Sei Young Kim of South Korea sank a 4-foot birdie putt on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff to defeat Sun Young Yoo and Ariya Jutanugarn and capture the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic.

Kim, who recently turned 22, also sank a 3-foot birdie on the same hole, the par-5 18th, 20 minutes earlier to cap a 5-under-par 68 and climb into a tie with Yoo and Jutanugarn at 14-under 278 at the Ocean Club at Atlantis Resort. Ninth at the 2014 LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament, Kim collected $195,000 from the $1.3 million purse.

“It’s definitely a dream. I’m really happy. Since 10 years ago it’s what I’ve dreamed of,” said Kim, who rebounded impressively after missing the cut in last week’s season-opening Coates Golf Championship in Ocala, Fla. “I was super nervous on the last putt [in the playoff]. But I’m fine now.”

A five-time winner on the Korean LPGA, Kim collected 500 points in the Race to the CME Globe and shares first place in the standings with Na Yeon Choi, who missed the cut at the Ocean Club after winning the Coates Championship. Kim is projected to move from 40th to 23rd in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

“I missed the cut last week, and I was really upset, and I trained really hard for this week,” Kim said. “I joined the LPGA in hopes of making the Korean Olympics team, and this is one step towards that, so this means a lot to me.”

Yoo, who shared the third-round with Inbee Park, forged a two-stroke lead at 15 under par with three holes remaining, but the 2012 Kraft Nabisco winner three-putted from 60 feet at the par 4 16th – her only three-putt of the week – to drop a shot and then failed to get up and down from behind the green for birdie at the 18th. That left her tied with Jutanugarn, who converted a six-foot birdie putt at 18 to reach 14 under.

In the playoff, Kim reached the green in two, while Yoo and Jutanugarn needed three to find the putting surface. Kim left her first putt from 20 feet well short, but then watched Yoo and Jutanugarn, also an LPGA rookie, miss from 17 and 8 feet, respectively. Kim then calmly sank the winner and was sprayed by fellow players with Pure Silk shave cream.

Jutanugarn, also an LPGA rookie, closed with a 4-under 69. Yoo had a 70. Brittany Lincicome also had a 70 and finished fourth alone at 13-under 279.

Park, who had a chance to regain the No. 1 spot in the Rolex Rankings one week after falling behind Lydia Ko, stalled in the final round with a 1-under 72 and ended up joint fifth at 12-under 280 with Danielle Kang, who had a 69.

Ko put on a furious charge, tying Kim for low round of the day with a 68 to move 12 spots into a tie for seventh place at 11-under 281 with Azahara Munoz (70), Lexi Thompson (71) and Pure Silk ambassador Gerina Piller (70).

Defending champion Jessica Korda salvaged a T-38 finish with a closing 69 for 3-under 289.

Play resumed at 8 a.m. Sunday with 68 of 74 players having to complete their third round after delays that stretched back to a long weather-induced suspension Thursday. The third round ended at 10:43 a.m. EST with Park and Yoo tied atop the leaderboard at 11-under 208. The final round began at 9:38 without the field being re-paired.

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