Wild rally leads A Lim Kim to U.S. Women’s Open victory

A lim kim

A Lim Kim is the U.S. Women's Open champion after a final round 67 Monday.

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The 2020 Women’s U.S. Open, played in December for the very first time, ended in a fittingly chilly fashion with players bundled up in parkas and beanies. But the winner, A Lim Kim, finished hotter than ever. 

The 25-year-old birdied the 70th, 71st and 72nd holes of the championship to eke out a one-shot lead when she signed her card. The remaining groups behind her challenged but never matched her score of three under, 281.

It was Kim’s first ever appearance in the Women’s Open, and first victory on the LPGA Tour for the 94th-ranked player in the world. She also became the first player to win a major while wearing a mask.

“I decided to come out and be the aggressive player that I was, attack the pin,” she said. “It worked out today.” 

If it felt like Kim came from out of nowhere, that’s because she truly seemed to. She began her day five shots back of 54-hole leader Hinako Shibuno, and while Kim made three front-nine birdies, she gave two back with bogeys on 10 and 11. 

As for the broadcast, most of the focus was Shibuno and Amy Olson, the leading American. Shibuno’s slow burn of front-nine bogeys following errant tee shots led to her closing 74. Olson looked to be in the driver’s seat, holding a two-shot lead on the back nine. She was at one moment the only player under par. That’s when Kim took off.

When the broadcast found her, Kim was laughing as her putt rolled up to the 15th hole, peeked at the edge and decided not to go in. Half an hour later she was being interviewed about the great chance she had at winning it all. Half an hour after that, she was in player dining, munching on bananas as the final grouping failed to make birdies on their way in. When it became official, she was mid-conversation with her translator. Her caddie made a fist pump and soon all bets were off. Two of her friends on tour came sprinting in with champagne flying.

Kim is now the ninth Korean winner of the U.S. Women’s Open in the last 13 years. Oddly enough, she is the second non-LPGA Tour member to win a women’s major this year, following in the footsteps of Sophia Popov, who claimed the Women’s British Open.

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