A perfect start, a perfect finish…a perfect first win of the season

For the first time in a year and five months, Kim Hyo-ju (Lotte) is back on top of the Women’s Professional Golf (LPGA) Tour. Her first win of the season and sixth of her career came in a wire-to-wire victory that saw her never fall from the top of the leaderboard for four days.

Kim carded four birdies and two bogeys for a 2-under 69 in the fourth round of the LPGA Tour’s Ascendant LPGA ($1.8 million purse) on Monday (Sept. 9) at Old American Golf Club (par 71-6475) in The Colony, Texas, USA. Her final total of 13-under-par 271 gave her a four-stroke victory over runners-up Bianca Pagdanganan (Philippines) and Ataya Thittitjer (Thailand), who were both six strokes off the pace on the day.

Kim has two runner-up finishes and four third-place finishes in LPGA Tour events since last year’s Lotte Championship, which left her a step or two short of the top. She added $270,000 in prize money to her bankroll and surpassed $2 million in season earnings for the first time since joining the LPGA Tour.

It was the second straight week of wire-to-wire victories for the South Koreans, following last week’s win at the Arkansas Championship by Hae-ran Hae (Daol Financial Group), and added to two wins by Jin-young Ko (Solaire) to give them a combined four wins on the season.

Kim Hyo-joo was on full display at the tournament, leading the field in stroke average and greens in regulation. Kim entered the final day with a five-stroke lead and never looked back. Two birdies and two bogeys kept her on track until the 13th (par-5), when she was unable to close the gap to within four shots. Group 19’s Pagdanganan and Thititzhanan dropped back-to-back birdies on the 17th (par-5) and 18th (par-4) but never threatened. Kim Hyo-joo of the 23rd (Champions Group) drove a wedge with birdies at the 14th (par-4) and 17th.

Yoo So-yeon (Mediheal), who dropped one stroke on the day, finished tied for seventh (5-under 279), her first top-10 finish in a year after tying for seventh in this event last year.

“My performance this year hasn’t been bad, but I was disappointed that I didn’t win,” Kim said in an interview, noting that her shots and putts didn’t go her way on the final hole. “I thought a lot about how much I wanted to win before the year ended, but I’m so happy.” She also revealed her desire to win the Bear Trophy. “My goals this year were to win the championship and have the best average,” Kim said, adding, “If I achieve both, it will be a successful season.” 굿모닝토토

After the ceremony, Kim boarded a plane to South Korea, where she will compete in the LPGA Tour’s BMW Ladies Championship, which begins on April 19 at Seowon Hills Country Club in Paju, Gyeonggi Province.

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