South Korea’s In-Kyung Kim held off last-day charges by both Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Michelle Wie to claim her first major title with an impressive two-stroke victory in the £2.5 million Ricoh Women’s British Open at Kingsbarns.
Her redemption for missing a one-foot putt on the last before losing a play-off in the 2012 ANA Inspiration, the 29-year-old looked a winner on the Fife coast the moment she hit the front at the halfway stage on Friday night.
Her sole blemish over the final two days was a three-putt bogey at the ninth in the final round and, with a closing 71 for an 18-under-par 270 total, Kim claimed victory with a performance that was every bit as polished as the one that had earned compatriot Lee Mi Hyang her victory in the Scottish Open at Dundonald Links a week earlier.
“I feel quite uplifted,” admitted Kim after breaking her major duck at the 47th attempt. “It is quite an experience to win here in Scotland. I really did not expect to win this week but playing in the Scottish Open at Dundonald helped me prepare for this event as we played in 40mph winds every day.”
Kim effectively clinched the £387,996 top prize with a majestic 5-wood that found the heart of the green at the 17th from a downhill lie. “That club is a new addition and it has helped me a lot this week,” admitted the new champion.
In an event blighted by torrential downpours, Ewart Shadoff finished as Kim’s closest challenger after signing off with a course record-equalling 64, with Wie (66) tying for third on 13 under with Germany’s Caroline Masson (67) and England’s Georgia Hall (68).
Ewart Shadoff, pictured, had started the day nine shots behind Kim before doing her best to pull off a fightback to match Paul Lawrie coming from ten shots behind to win the men’s equivalent on the other side of the Tay Estuary at Carnoustie in 1999.
The 29-year-old raced to the turn in 31, finishing the front nine with four birdies in a row before extending that hot streak to five by starting for home with another gain against the card.
At that point, she had come within four of Kim and the deficit was down to just two when Ewart Shadoff, having also birdied the 13th, then hit a brilliant approach to around six feet at the 17th.
“I didn’t think starting the day that I would have a chance as IK was way ahead,” admitted Ewart Shadoff. “But I holed a great putt on the first hole, which I think set the tone for the day as my putting was really on fire.”
Wie, who’d begun the day ten shots off the lead, got within four of Kim after storming to the turn in 30 then moving to 14 under overall only to see her slender title hopes disappear with a bogey at the difficult 17th, normally the 18th.
“I’m really proud of myself for how I chased it today,” said the 27-year-old American after matching her first effort as an amateur back in 2005.
On a day when Sophie Lamb, a 19-year-old from Clitheroe in Lancashire, finished as leading amateur on this occasion – she signed off with a 69 to end up three shots ahead of Northern Ireland’s Leona Maguire – Sally Watson was close to tears as the sole Scot to make the cut said her farewell to professional golf.
“I was getting a little emotional on the tee,” said Watson, who signed off with a 76 to finish 74th on four over, of how she felt coming down the 18th in her final appearance before starting an MBA at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business next month.