South Korea’s In-Kyung Kim exorcised her major championship demons overnight, claiming her maiden major victory at the Ricoh Women’s British Open.
Kim’s victory is five years removed from a missed one-foot putt on the 72nd hole of the 2012 ANA Inspiration that sent the tournament in to a playoff, which the South Korean subsequently lost to compatriot Sun Young Yoo.
Despite winning multiple times on the LPGA Tour since, including twice in 2017, Kim has been constantly asked to reflect on the missed short putt and her majorless resume. But no more after closing out an impressive two shot win, during a week of typical Scottish summer weather at Kingsbarns, consisting of wind, rain and sunshine.
“And I think – every day is rain, so I kind of expect rain and when it didn't, it was kind of like, whoa,” Kim said of the varied conditions at the home of golf.
Beginning the final day leading by six shots, after recording a 66 in the third round, Kim played a perfect long-iron to the back right pin position on the par-3 1st to set up a hassle free birdie putt from ironically just one foot.
Her confidently holed putt signalled a different result than 2012 was forthcoming, with the 29-year-old never seriously challenged on the final day, despite Sunday charges of 66 and 64 from first round leader Michelle Wie and Englishwoman Jodi Ewart Shadoff respectively. But it would prove to be too little too late.
“I feel quite uplifted, I have to say because I really didn't expect to win this week,” Kim said. “And having the lead and then going into the last round, was a great task. Yeah, I think I managed it quite well.”
After the birdie at the 1st, Kim’s final round was an impressive display of patience and course management with the South Korean managing only one more birdie, at the par-5 8th hole, which was immediately negated by her only bogey at the following hole.
Kim then recorded nine straight pars on the inward half eventually signing for a one under 71 and 18 under total, which proved enough to defeat Ewart Shadoff by two, with Wie joined by Germany’s Caroline Masson and England’s Georgia Hall a further shot back.
With her victory, Kim becomes the first three-time winner on the LPGA Tour in 2017 and jumps an impressive 12 places in the world rankings to No.9. And the 14th South Korean major winner will be relieved to no longer answer questions about ‘that putt’, which she admitted after her final round helped her to finish the job differently at Kingsbarns.
“Missing a putt is not the worst thing that could happen in life, and that's how I look at it,” Kim said. “When I make a three-footer, I'm quite rewarded now. Like I don't take it for granted, either. When I make a 3-footer, I'm really excited about making the putt. I think that's the reason that I finished today.”
Su Oh and Katherine Kirk were the lone Aussies to make the weekend, finishing well off the pace in 30th and 63rd respectively after failing to make any significant moves up the leaderboard over the weekend.