South Korea’s Kim In-Kyung birdied six of the first nine holes on her way to a four-stroke victory Sunday at the Marathon Classic to capture her sixth LPGA title.
Kim, ranked 28th, fired a bogey-free eight-under par 63 at Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania, Ohio, to finish 72 holes on 21-under par 263.
“I really didn’t expect anything. Maybe that’s why I played really well today,” Kim said. “Really good names were on top of the leaderboard and I just wanted to go out and make the most out of it and today I was able to do that.”
It was the second triumph in as many months for Kim, who captured last week’s ShopRite LPGA Classic. She has also taken three European Ladies Tour events, including her second triumph in three years at last September’s Ladies European Masters.
American Lexi Thompson birdied three of the last four holes to grab second on 267 with a closing 66, with American Gerina Piller and Taiwan’s Chien Pei-Yun sharing third on 269.
US 18-year-old rookie Nelly Korda, the daughter of retired Czech tennis star Petr Korda, owned the 54-hole lead but stumbled to a final-round 74 to share eighth.
Kim opened with a birdie, took two more at the third and fourth and closed the front nine with three in a row to reach 19-under.
Back-to-back birdies again at 15 and 16 stifled Thompson’s late charge to seal the triumph.
Asked about her hot start, Kim had no idea how she pulled it off.
“I wish I had the answer, but I really don’t,” Kim said. “I always liked the golf course. Getting up and down on number two, the par-3, gave me a chance to go for a good round.”
Thompson birdied the par-5 seventh and par-4 ninth to reach 16-under but bogeys at 10 and 12 dropped her too far back.
“I put up a good score,” Thompson said. “I had a little bit of a rough stretch there but overall I’m very happy with the way I played.
“I knew if I started off with some birdies and get it going, which I did, (I had a chance) but you can’t control other players. You just have to focus on doing your best and control your attitude and your game.”
Play was halted for almost two hours with only the last 10 players on the course.
LPGA rookie Chien, ranked 266th in the world, managed her first top-10 finish this season after missing the cut in 10 of her 16 prior LPGA starts this year.
“Proud, very proud, because a lot of Taiwanese fans really care about this tournament and I played well. Still a lot of pressure for me,” Chein said.
“I feel great because I worked with my caddie about six months. We’re getting better and every week we find some problem we will change it. We’re getting better. For me a top 10 here is great. I’m very proud of me.”
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