EVEN Hyo-Joo Kim could hardly believe it as she holed a 15-foot birdie putt at the final hole and then stood back and saw Karrie Webb miss her par putt from 12 feet. At 19, and in her first major, she had just won the Evian Championship in France.
Webb, winner of the 2002 Women’s British Open Champion at Turnberry, was aiming to become the first player to win six different majors in her legendary career.
And she stood on the 18th tee one ahead of a player 20 years her junior. But she took three from the edge at the final green to be denied the chance of her eighth career major title.
Kim shot a final round 68 and the 11-under-par total secured the £200,000 prize and the added bonus of a free pass onto next season’s LPGA Tour.
Webb also shot 68 for second place on ten-under, with another two South Koreans, Jang Ha-Na (66) and Hur Mi Jung (68) tied for third on nine-under.
Kim began the final round one shot ahead of playing partner Webb and was two ahead of everyone by the turn and three in front with just six holes to play. But Webb launched a typically gutsy attack. She birdied the short 14th and the long 15th. Kim bogeyed 14 and dropped another shot at the 16th to suddenly find herself one behind with two to play.
Kim doesn’t speak much English but her smile said it all. “I felt really nervous today but I’m very happy with the win,” she said through an interpreter. “The course is hilly – just like in Korea.”
Webb couldn’t believe her ill luck. “I don’t know what hit me,” was her immediate reaction. “There was probably a bit of adrenaline at the end and I hit the shot with the belly putter too strong and then missed the putt back.”
At the start of the week, Kim said she was unsure as to whether she would go to the LPGA Tour qualifying school this year. Now she doesn’t have to bother. “I’ll certainly take it,” she said of her exemption onto the 2015 circuit.
Michelle Wie, who had to pull out of the first round with a hand injury, stayed on for the rest of the tournament and was rewarded by becoming the inaugural winner of the Annika Major Award. It is for the player who has won at least one major and has the best overall record. Wie is the US Women’s Open Champion and was runner-up to Lexi Thompson in the Kraft Nabisco Championship.