Kim wins Hyundai China Ladies Open again

December 15, 2014 1:22 pm 

SHENZHEN, China, Dec. 14 — China has proven twice as nice for South Korea's Kim Hyo-joo this year.

Six months after winning the Kumho Tire Ladies Open in Shandong during the summer, the world No. 9 captured her second Hyundai China Ladies title on Sunday with a dominant seven-under 65 performance for a two-stroke victory in Guangdong province.

The 19-year-old Kim, who won China's national championship in 2012 two months after she turned pro, finished the tournament on 14-under 202 over the Mission Hills World Cup Course. She earned 110,000 US dollars for the victory in the 550,000 US dollars tournament, a co-sponsored event between the China LPGA Tour and the Ladies PGA Tour of Korea.

"The win is great. It's a great start to a new season. I think Korean fans won't forget me, even if I went to the US to play," said Kim who posted her seventh victory worldwide in 2014. It was also the ninth consecutive year that a South Korean had won the tournament.

The Wonju native, winner of the 2014 KLPGA Order of Merit on the strength of five domestic victories, got off to a strong start in the opening event of the South Korean tour's 2015 season when she reeled off five consecutive birdies starting at the second hole. She would post three more birdies with her only dropped shot of the round coming at the par-three 13th hole.

"My iron play was fantastic on the front nine, I left many birdie chances within 10 feet and I converted some," she said.

"But I saw the leaderboard entering the back nine and I saw that (Chun) In-gee made a great run and was very close to me, which made me more focused on my game."

Compatriot Chun finished runner-up after closing with a 66 to sit at 12-under 204. China's Lin Xiyu secured the China LPGA Tour Order of Merit title when the 18-year-old closed with a 68 to finish the championship at nine-under 207, tied for equal third with South Korean Jang Ha-na (67) at five shots back.

Chun, the glamor girl of the KLPGA Tour, briefly caught Kim at the 14th hole when she registered the eighth birdie of her round to get to 13-under. It was as close as she would get, however, as she could only play par golf back to the clubhouse before a bogey five at the last.

"I'm not disappointed with my result, but a little bit disappointed with the last hole. I tried to have a bogey-free round, but the last hole I made a mistake and three-putted from the back edge of the green," said Chun.

"I'm satisfied with this round. I didn't know Kim's score so I didn't think about the win. I just played my game. I like China. I like the Chinese fans and I would come back next year."

US LPGA Tour regular Lin put up a valiant fight to become the first Chinese to win the national championship when she carded five birdies through her first 13 holes. A double-bogey six at the 14th proved her undoing as she fell out of contention. A late birdie three at the 17th hole gave her a share of third place.

"I'm happy with this finish. I saw the leaderboard at the turn and I knew a win was far away from me. But this is my best finish in this event," said the Guangzhou native who won back-to-back tournaments in Hainan Island last month.

"For the past month I played great, now I have won the money title. That's great. That's awesome."

With the Order of Merit crown, Lin, Pan Yanhong (75) and one other will receive entry into the field for next year's US Women' s Open for being the top-three players in the money race.

Chinese Taipei's Cheng Ssu-chi (68) was the tournament's top amateur after finishing at four-under 212. The 19-year-old announced earlier that she will turn pro for the 2015 season. Wang Ziyi was the best of the Chinese amateurs as the 16-year-old carded her third consecutive round of 72 to finish the tournament at even-par 216. (PNA/Xinhua)

CTB/RSM

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