Sei Young Kim breaks through at KPMG Women’s PGA, wins first major championship
Sei Young Kim’s professional golf resume was already impressive, but after a clinical Sunday performance at Aronimink Golf Club she can finally add the most important bullet point of all — major champion.
Kim fired a flawless final-round 63 on a cool and cloudy day in the Philadelphia suburbs to claim the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, ultimately finishing five shots ahead of seven-time major champion Inbee Park. Kim’s final round was bogey-free as she navigated the testy Donald Ross routing with fearless aggression, carding seven birdies on the day to finish 14 under for the championship.
“This course is really challenging for all the players,” Kim said. “It’s really tough. Sometimes I’m shaking my head, or my legs are shaking. But I just tried to keep the focus on (winning).”
The closing 18 for Kim featured a potent mix of unflinching ball striking and timely putting as she kept mistakes at bay and capitalized on opportunities when they were presented. Her front nine featured birdies on Nos. 3, 6 and 9 and when she turned to the back nine, she punched the gas even more. Four back-nine birdies were highlighted by back-to-back circles on 16 and 17 to extend her lead to five over Park.
“I reached my big goal, so I’m very happy with that,” she said. “It means a lot … It’s very emotional. I’m very happy to win my first major tournament”
Park’s day was equally impressive as she posted 65 in pursuit of yet another major championship, but with Kim matching her blow for blow, there was never much opportunity to catch the 27-year-old. The solo-second finish is her 32nd top 10 in a major as she adds yet another chapter to her storied career.
“It was a great day out there — I couldn’t ask for a better day,” Park said. “Sei Young was just really untouchable … I’d like to congratulate her; she had a great day. That’s how a champion plays a final round.”
With the win, Kim takes home the largest winner’s check in Women’s PGA Championship history of $645,000 and pushes her career LPGA Tour earnings over $9 million. She also earns a five-year LPGA exemption and moves to fourth in the Race to the CME Globe.
Nasa Hataoka and Carlota Ciganda also had stellar Sundays as they posted 64 and 65 to finish T3 at seven under, while Anna Nordqvist and Brooke Henderson struggled in the final grouping alongside Kim, both firing over-par rounds to finish in fifth and sixth, respectively. The long-bombing Bianca Pagdanganan struggled on the final day, but she was able to post even par for the championship to finish T9 in her first career major.
Next up on the LPGA Tour docket is the Drive On Championship in two weeks, while the final major of 2020 looms in December at the U.S. Women’s Open at Houston’s Champions Golf Club.