SHOAL CREEK, Ala. (Reuters) - Seven shots behind runaway leader Ariya Jutanugarn halfway through the final round of the U.S. Women’s Open on Sunday, it never crossed Kim Hyo-joo’s mind that she might have a chance to win it.
Two hours later the South Korean came within a whisker of doing just that, falling at the fourth extra hole of a playoff after Ariya overcame a back-nine collapse at Shoal Creek.
“I’m extremely happy that I was part of this historical day,” said Kim, speaking via an interpreter.
“Although the playoff did not go as I wanted, I’m just happy and take pride that I made it to the playoff.
“It did not really enter my mind that I was going to come that close, so I just focused on my game.”
Kim, who won her sole major title at the 2014 Evian Championship as a 19-year-old, had been seeking to extend South Korean players’ incredible run at the tournament, where they had won seven of the previous 10 championships.
Swinging with metronomic consistency, Kim fired a flawless five-under-par 67, with both of her back-nine birdies, at the 12th and 15th holes, coming courtesy of huge putts.
She said the 50-footer she sank from off the green at the 15th had made her feel “the luck was with me today”.
That luck ran out in the playoff, however.
At the fourth extra hole she found a greenside bunker with her approach shot and could only make bogey, while Ariya produced a stunning up-and-down to make par and clinch the title.
Editing by Peter Rutherford