Tuesday, December 15

Unheralded A Lim Kim Triumphs in U.S. Women's Open Thanks to a Birdie-Birdie-Birdie Finish


TWO YEARS AGO, A LIM KIM registered her first LPGA Tour of Korea victory at the Se Ri Pak Invitational. It came 20 years after that tournament's namesake produced a seminal moment in women's golf for the Republic of Korea, a victory in the 1998 U.S. Women's Open. Now the 25-year-old will have her name etched on the same iconic trophy.

Kim closed out the weather-delayed final round of the 75th U.S. Women's Open at Champions Golf Club on a chilly Monday in southeast Texas with three consecutive birdies to edge countrywoman and world No. 1 Jin Young Ko and Amy Olson by one stroke. Her 4-under-par 67 matched the lowest round of the championship and gave her a 3-under total of 281. Hinako Shibuno, the 54-hole leader, finished two strokes back.

The No. 94 player in the Rolex Rankings became the 10th different Korean to claim the Harton S. Semple Trophy since Pak's breakthrough moment 22 years ago at Blackwolf Run. That win also came on a Monday, in what became a 20-hole playoff victory over amateur Jenny Chuasiriporn.

Kim also became the third Korean in the last 15 years to win the oldest major championship in women's golf in her first start, joining Birdie Kim (2005) and In Gee Chun (2015). Only two others – Patty Berg in the inaugural event in 1946 and Kathy Cornelius 10 years later – had managed to win this title in their first start. In fact, this was Kim's first-ever competition in the United States and her first women's major.

When the result became official, defending champion Jeongeun Lee6 and another Korean competitor gave the new winner a celebratory shower in the Player Hospitality tent.

"Can't really describe it in words," said Kim through a translator. "I never expected that I was going to appear in the U.S. Women's Open. I still can't feel what it's like right now, but I'll probably feel it when the ceremony and everything wraps up today."

The championship had to be completed on Monday due to nearly three-quarters of an inch of rain that saturated the Cypress Creek Course on Sunday. Only twice before had a non-playoff round of the U.S. Women's Open been completed on a Monday: 1987 at Plainfield Country Club, where a Tuesday 18-hole playoff was required, and 2011 at The Broadmoor, where fellow Korean, So Yeon Ryu, prevailed in a three-hole aggregate playoff over compatriot Hee Kyung Seo.

With temperatures hovering in the 40s and a wind chill that felt like the mid-30s, players arrived at Champions Golf Club dressed more for a day on the ski slopes. Many competitors donned wool caps, wore earmuffs and used gloves to keep their hands warm. Some even put on parkas in between shots.

Kim covered her face with a mask all week to protect herself and others from COVID-19, the virus that forced the U.S. Women's Open to be moved from June to December and kept fans from enjoying the competition in person.

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