Hyun-Ji Kim repeats at Korea Ladies Masters
JEJU, South Korea – As Hyun-Ji Kim stood off the 18th green Sunday awaiting a possible playoff, she breathed a sigh of relief as Soo-Jin Yang’s birdied putt slipped past the hole.
There would be no playoff pressure this year.
Starting the final round four shots off the lead at the Korea European Ladies Masters, Kim shot 7-under 65 to retain her title in the co-sanctioned Korean LPGA and Ladies European Tour event.
Kim carded five birdies on the front nine but was still two strokes behind leader Yang, also from South Korea. Kim played catch-up again with birdies on Nos. 14-15 and finished with a three-round total of 8-under 208 to take the clubhouse lead at the Haevichi Country Club.
Kim, a Taekwondo black-belt, joined the Ladies European Tour after her victory at this same event a year ago when she won on the second playoff hole at the Cypress Country Club.
Yang, who held a share of the lead going into the final round with Englishwoman Melissa Reid, shot 70 Sunday and tied for second with 2008 champion Hee-Kyung Seo at 7 under for 54 holes.. Ha-Neul Kim finished a shot back in fourth, Hye-Jin Jung was fifth at 5 under. and Korean amateur Julie Yang placed sixth at 4 under.
“I feel lucky because I thought it could go to a playoff, and Soo-Jin Yang is the second-ranked played on the Korean LPGA Tour in 2010,” Kim said.
“I knew it would be very difficult to successfully defend a title, but I’m very happy because I did it with my best-ever score as a professional.”
Her 65 was also the best of the tournament. Tour money leader Lee-Anne Pace shot 66 Sunday and tied for seventh at 3 under with Yoon-Kyung Hur.
Reid, who also shared the lead after the first and second rounds, closed with a 75 to share ninth with Julieta Granada of Paraguay and four others. Money list No. 2 Laura Davies of England closed with 72 for a share of 45th.
Players now travel to India for the Hero Honda Women’s India Open, which starts Thursday at the DLF Golf & Country Club in Gurgaon, near New Delhi.
Ladies European Tour contributed to this report.