Hyo Joo is "huge"
By Torleif Sorenson on 3/23/15
Hyo Joo Kim is 19 years old and technically a rookie on the LPGA Tour this year. But she is no rookie on the golf course.
Kim was a member of the Korean LPGA Tour last year when she smashed her way into the big time at the 2014 Evian Championship, one of the American LPGA's five major championships. In the opening round, Kim shot a 10-under-par 61, the lowest round ever in any men's or women's major championship. She shot 61-72-72-68 = 273 (-11) that weekend and won the Evian by sinking a 12-foot birdie putt to defeat Hall-of-Famer Karrie Webb by one stroke. That was Kim's first time playing a major championship, too.
By virtue of winning the Evian last year, Kim became eligible for U.S. LPGA membership, which she accepted. (No surprise there.)
So Kim has begun life as an LPGA Tour rookie with one major and plenty of exemption time to her credit. In her firs two 2015 LPGA season tournaments, she finished T-8 at the HSBC Women's Champions in Singapore, then T-23 at the Honda LPGA Thailand.
Over the weekend at the JTBC Founders Cup at Wildfire Golf Club in Phoenix, Kim did it again. She shot 65-69-66-67 = 267 (-21) to outlast two-time major champ Stacy Lewis by three and win.
Afterward, the 19-year-old Kim spoke through a translator to convey her thoughts:
"It's impossible not to feel a little pressure or nervous, especially when your playing partner is playing so well. If anything, I think the situation on hole 10 helped because after I went through there and I got a bogey, I just realized there's no time to feel pressure or feel afraid. I've just got to go out there and play."And man, has she ever done that.
In the 13 LPGA tournaments she has played going back through last year, she has made every cut and finished in the top 25. That includes eight top ten finishes.
And for the third consecutive time, a South Korean-born golfer has won on the LPGA Tour. Amy Yang won her second LPGA title at the Honda LPGA Thailand on March 1, then five-time major champ Inbee Park won the HSBC Women's Champions the very next week.
Meanwhile, 30-year-old Stacy Lewis has amassed something of a Nicklaus-like record inasmuch as she has 13 professional wins and a remarkable 17 second-place finishes.
It does not matter whether your support is for American, Korean, Japanese, Australian, or European-born players — the LPGA has been riding a strong tide of resurgence over the last three years. And things just keeping looking better and better.
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[ comments ]
Those young women can flat out play.
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