Mi Hyun ‘Peanut’ Kim becomes the first South Korean golfer to win on the LPGA Tour in 2007.
BROKEN ARROW, Okla. – Needing only to make a 5-foot putt on No. 18 to win the SemGroup Championship on Sunday, Mi Hyun Kim pushed it right of the hole. But she received a quick chance for redemption, and took advantage of it. Kim, forced into a playoff with Hall of Famer Juli Inkster because of the miss, won on the first extra hole â€” making a 4-foot par putt on No. 18 â€” for her first LPGA Tour victory of the year.
Kim, who started the round one shot behind the leaders, won for the eighth time on the tour. Inkster, who will turn 47 next month, would have been the oldest player to win an LPGA Tour event. She closed with a 2-under 69 in regulation.
Kim, who shot a 71, and Inkster finished regulation tied at 3-under, one shot ahead of Ai Miyazoto and Angela Stanford. Four others were at 1-under, including Lorena Ochoa, Reilley Rankin and Stephanie Louden. Rankin and Louden began the day in a four-way tie for first.
Kim, whose last tour win in 2006 came after a three-hole playoff with Natalie Gulbis in the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic, hit her second shot in the playoff to the fringe on the back of the green, about 35 feet from the hole, and two-putted.
Inkster’s second shot, using a 6-iron, sailed over the green. She chipped 8 feet past the hole but missed the par putt.
Six players held the lead at some point on a cloudy, humid day. The 6,602-yard Cedar Ridge Country Club course was soggy from storms that hit Oklahoma the past week.
Moments after Inkster bogeyed No. 17 to fall out of the lead, Kim curled in a breaking 15-foot birdie putt at No. 16 to take a two-shot edge. Inkster hit a 6-foot birdie putt on No. 18 to close the gap to one shot.
Kim hit her tee shot into the rough on the par-4 17th, but salvaged par, knocking a 5-foot putt into the center of the hole. On the 18th, her tee shot landed in the middle of the fairway but she hit into a greenside bunker and three-putted for bogey.
“After the bunker shot, I was so excited and nervous, so my hands were shaking,” Kim said. “So when I marked the ball, my hand was shaking. So when I set up the putt, I know the line, but I can’t stroke the putt.”
She said she wasn’t nervous during the playoff, because at that point, “You have to get more lucky. Juli’s second shot was over the green, that was unlucky (for her). But that was lucky for me.”
The round started with four co-leaders â€” Nicole Castrale, Rankin, Louden and Karin Sjodin â€” who had not won on the tour. One by one, they all fell back.
Tour officials moved up Sunday’s tee times by two hours and used threesomes instead of twosomes in a successful effort to avoid weather problems.
Now I know why ESPN2 had the golf on tape delay. I thought it was another case of the LPGA getting shafted by television. Then did ESPN2 have something on live before the women’s golf today? I didn’t look.
ESPN2 did compare Kimmie’s swing to John Daly. Two players so physically unalike but with the almost the same golf swing. Peanut uses a 44 or 45 inch driver. She is only 61 inches tall!
It took a while for the ROK players to crack the winner’s circle this year. In 2006, four had already won on tour by this point. There will certainly be more wins by the Korean ladies before 2007 ends.
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