South Korean Kim Hyo-joo fired seven birdies in her opening 14 holes on her way to a two-shot victory in the season opener at the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic on Sunday. Kim collected her third LPGA title in style, hitting every fairway and carding a seven-under-par 66 at the Ocean Club course on Paradise Island.
She finished at 18-under 274, while American Stacy Lewis, Swede Anna Nordqvist and defending champion Kim Sei-young of South Korea tied for second on 16-under.
Nordqvist, who held a share of the overnight lead with English teenager Charley Hull, shot 69, but it was not good enough to close the deal.
Hull carded 71 to finish four shots back in a tie for eighth.
Winner Kim, who required 25 putts, won the 2014 Evian Championship, an LPGA Tour major, and entered the Bahamas tournament as world number 10. It was a perfect start to the season for the 20-year-old, whose sights are set firmly on Rio, where golf will return to the Olympics this year after an absence of more than a century.
“I want to win three times before the Olympics, so I’ve got one down, two to go now,” Kim told reporters.
Kim had a three-shot lead after 15 holes, but then bogeyed the 16th as Lewis was picking up a shot at the par-five 15th, her third consecutive birdie.
But Kim recovered by knocking her four-iron stiff at the par-three 17th for a tap-in birdie and then parred the last.
“I’m really happy that I won here because it's ... obviously good start to the year, so good vibes,” Kim said.
Lewis, an 11-times LPGA winner, could only par the final three holes and had to settle for yet another second-placing, her ninth runner-up finish since her last victory in 2014.
“I just got off to a bit of a slow start and making bogey on eight hurt,” said the world number three.
“But I’m proud of the way I came back on the back nine and gave myself a chance.”
(Reporting by Tim Wharnsby in Toronto; Editing by Andrew Both)