S. Korean rookie Kim Sei-young captures maiden LPGA victory in Bahamas

February 8, 2015
Second place finisher Sun Young Yoo of South Korea, background in yellow, watches Sei Young Kim of South Korea, pump her fist in the air after winning the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic at the Ocean Club Golf Course, in Paradise Island, Bahamas, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Tim Aylen)

Second place finisher Yoo Sun-young of South Korea, background in yellow, watches Kim Sei-young of South Korea, pump her fist in the air after winning the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic at the Ocean Club Golf Course, in Paradise Island, Bahamas, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Tim Aylen)

Sei Young Kim of South Korea holds her trophy after winning the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic at the Ocean Club Golf Course, in Paradise Island, Bahamas, Sunday, Feb 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Tim Aylen)

Kim Sei-young of South Korea holds her trophy after winning the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic at the Ocean Club Golf Course, in Paradise Island, Bahamas, Sunday, Feb 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Tim Aylen)

SEOUL (Yonhap) — South Korean rookie Kim Sei-young has claimed her first career LPGA Tour victory in the Bahamas in a playoff, becoming the second straight golfer from the country to win on the tour.

The 22-year-old defeated fellow South Korean Yoo Sun-young and Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn in the playoff to win the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic on Sunday. The three had ended the regulation tied at 14-under 278 on the par-73 Ocean Club Golf Course, and Kim beat her two rivals with a birdie on the first playoff hole.

Kim, a five-time winner on the Korean LPGA (KLPGA) Tour, earned her LPGA privileges through the qualifying tournament last December.

Last week, Choi Na-yeon captured the season-opening Coates Golf Championship in Florida. In 2014, seven South Koreans combined for 10 victories on the LPGA Tour.

Kim made US$195,000 with the victory and is projected to soar from No. 40 to No. 23 in the world golf rankings.

“I feel really great,” Kim said afterward. “I was really nervous. I just focused on my game. I can’t find the right words and just want to cry.”

Kim began the final round in a tie for sixth at nine-under, two shots behind the two overnight leaders, Yoo and world No. 2 Park In-bee. Kim traded three birdies with a bogey on the front nine to make her Sunday charge.

She picked up more birdies on the 10th and the 14th. Then on the par-4 16th, Kim missed her green long, nearly finding water, and scrambled to get a crucial par.

She closed out the regulation with a birdie on the par-5 18th for a five-under 68, tying her with Lydia Ko for the best round of the day. Jutanugarn carded a 69 while Yoo shot a 70 to fall into the playoff.

And when the three golfers returned to the 18th to start the playoff, Kim emerged victorious by sinking a five-foot birdie putt.

Park, who lost her No. 1 ranking to Ko last week, managed a 72 for a four-round total of 12-under, putting her in a tie for fifth.

Ko finished a shot behind Park to tie for seventh but retained her top spot in the world rankings.

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