South Korean, Hyo Joo Kim captured her second LPGA when she took home the JTBC Founders Cup in Phoenix.
Pressure doesn’t seem to faze 19-year-old Kim. At least that’s the way it seems after the LPGA Tour rookie delivered a masterful display in Sunday’s final round of the JTBC Founders Cup, shooting a 5-under 67 to defeat American Stacy Lewis by three strokes.
Kim burst onto the LPGA scene at last year’s Evian Championship. A member of the KLPGA at the time, Kim outdueled our own Karrie Webb as she sank a 12-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to defeat Webb by one and capture her first LPGA win and her first major championship. It was also the first major championship that Kim had ever competed in on the LPGA Tour.
On Sunday at the Wildfire Golf Club, Kim was paired in the final group with another top player in the women’s game – Rolex Rankings No. 3 Stacy Lewis – and once again she didn’t seem to flinch when the pressure was on her.
After a bogey on the 10th hole where a ruling didn’t go the way she had hoped, Kim bounced back with three straight birdies. Despite Lewis putting the pressure on Kim with a stretch of four birdies in five holes from No. 12 to No. 16, Kim kept making birdies of her own en route to shooting a 4-under 32 on the back nine. And even with just a one-shot lead heading into the final hole, Kim didn’t seem to be affected by the pressure as she made birdie to clinch her victory.
“It’s impossible not to feel a little pressure or nervous, especially when your playing partner is playing so well,” Kim said through a translator.
“If anything, I think the situation on hole 10 helped because after I went through there and I got a bogey, I just realized there’s no time to feel pressure or feel afraid. I’ve just got to go out there and play.”
With her victory at the JTBC Founders Cup that made her a Rolex First-Time Winner, Kim is projected to move to No. 4 in the Rolex Rankings.
Only two Australian made the cut and after a promising start by Webb and Sarah Jane Smith, both of whom were tied for 16th after two rounds, they both fell away over the weekend. Webb, who was the defending champion finished in a tie for 34th after rounds of 67, 70, 73 and 69. While Smith finished in a share of 64th place after posting rounds of 70, 67, 76 and 71.
The LPGA tour now moves to California and the Kia Classic. Australians in the field this week include Webb, Smith, Katherine Kirk, Minjee Lee and Sarah Kemp.