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Sei Young Kim shatters LPGA scoring record in 9-shot victory

July 9, 2018
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Sei Young Kim reacts after making birdie on No. 5 during the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic golf tournament Sunday, July 8, 2018, in Oneida, Wis. (Jim Matthews/The Post-Crescent via AP)

ONEIDA, Wis. (AP) — Sei Young Kim became the first player in LPGA Tour history to go lower than 30 under in a performance so dominant in the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic that she now has the tour scoring records all to herself.

Kim closed with a 7-under 65 on Sunday for a nine-shot victory, finishing at 31-under 257 to break by four shots to par the record Kim had shared with Annika Sorenstam. Kim won the 2016 Founders Cup at 27 under, while Sorenstam won the 2001 Standard Register Ping at 27 under, the tournament Sorenstam shot 59.

Kim also set the 72-hole scoring record at 257, finishing with three straight pars to break the mark by one shot.

The only blemish for Kim all week at Thornberry Creek at Oneida was a double bogey in the second round Friday. She had 31 birdies and one eagle, another record for most sub-par holes in a tournament. Kim hit 67 out of 72 greens in regulation.

Kim tied another Sorenstam record when she was 24 under through 54 holes. The South Korea reached 28 under with a tap-in birdie on the par-5 ninth. She began the back nine with another birdie when her wedge from about 100 yards stopped a few feet from the hole, and she became the first to reach 30 under by making a 12-foot birdie putt on the par-3 12th.

For all the birdies, Kim set the LPGA Tour record with a par on the final hole to finish at 257. Hee Young Park won a playoff after she and Angela Stanford each finished at 258 in the Manulife Classic in Canada in 2013 (par 71), while Karen Stupples shot 258 at the Welch’s/Fry’s Championship in Arizona in 2004 (par 70).

Kim won for the first time this year and joined Brooke Henderson as the only players on the LPGA Tour with at least one victory in each of the last four seasons.

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PGA TOUR

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. (AP) — Kevin Na rode a hot putter to halt a winless streak of nearly seven years on the PGA Tour.

Na shot a 6-under-64 for a five-stroke victory at A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier on Sunday.

The 34-year-old Na’s only previous tour win came in Las Vegas in October 2011.

“I wasn’t sure if it was going to come again. I was hoping it would — sooner than later,” Na said. “I’ve been close so many times, failed so many times.”

Starting the final round one stroke behind Harold Varner and Kelly Kraft, Na birdied six of his first 10 holes to open a big lead on the Old White TPC, and he cruised from there. The only blemish on his card was a bogey on the par-4 11th after driving into the rough.

Na finished at 19-under 261 and picked up the $1.31 million winner’s paycheck.

“My putter got hot,” Na said. “The first day the putter felt awful, and (then) it just clicked. Every time I got over the ball it felt great, and everything felt like it was going in.”

Kraft shot 70 and finished second at 14 under. Brandt Snedeker (64) and Jason Kokrak (67) tied for third at 13 under. Each earned a place in the British Open as the leading four players from the top 12 not already eligible.

The only drama down the stretch was who would pick up the last spot to Carnoustie in two weeks. Sam Saunders lost out with bogeys on the 16th and 17th holes to miss by one. Varner needed to make a birdie on either No. 17 or 18 to get there, but he parred both holes. That gave the final spot to Austin Cook.

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EUROPEAN TOUR

DONEGAL, Ireland (AP) — Russell Knox of Scotland holed nearly identical putts of 40 feet on the 18th hole, first to get into a playoff, and then to beat Ryan Fox and win the Irish Open for his first European Tour victory.

Knox won for the first time in two years, most recently at the Travelers Championship during his bid to make the Ryder Cup team.

Knox closed with a 6-under 66 to set the clubhouse target at 14-under par. Fox missed an 8-foot birdie putt for the victory. In the playoff, Knox hit wedge from 131 yards to nearly the same spot on the 18th green, and his long birdie putt curled left to right and into the cup.

Fox had an 8-foot birdie putt to extend the playoff, but it caught the lip and spun away.

“Tough to describe how amazing this feels,” Knox said. “It’s why I play golf — all the practice days, all the misses, all the bad moments, all are taken care of with putts like that. ... Making two of them from almost identical positions, I mean, that’s a bit of a bonus. Unbelievable.”

Knox, who tied for second at the French Open last week, goes to No. 5 in the Race to Dubai and will get back into the top 50 in the world.

Fox, who shot a 68, earned one of three spots to the British Open in two weeks at Carnoustie. Zander Lombard of South Africa and Andy Sullivan of England earned the other two spots.

Defending champion Jon Rahm tied for fourth, while tournament host Rory McIlroy closed with a 71 and tied for 28th.

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WEB.COM TOUR

FINDLEY LAKE, N.Y. (AP) — Nelson Ledesma of Argentina seized control with three straight birdies at the turn, and he closed with a 5-under 67 for a two-shot victory in the Lecom Health Challenge for his first Web.com Tour victory.

Ledesma had missed eight cuts in 15 starts in his first Web.com Tour season, and his best finish was in Panama to start the season. The victory was worth $108,000 and moved him from 101st to 24th on the money list. The top 25 earn PGA Tour cards at the end of the season.

Ledesma went into the final round at Peek ’n Peak Resort one shot behind Sebastian Munoz, who had two bogeys in the opening four holes and never caught up. Jones fell back with a bogey on the par-3 fifth, and then Ledesma birdied his final three holes on the front nine and built a three-shot lead.

He finished off a bogey-free final round to post a 22-under 266, two shots clear of Jones (69) Munoz, who birdied his last two holes to salvage a 70.

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OTHER TOURS

MEN

In a battle of Americans in Malaysia, John Catlin closed with a 6-under 66 for a one-shot victory over Paul Peterson (68) in the inaugural Sarawak Championship on the Asian Tour. Peterson shared second place Saturday with Danthai Boonma (66) and Jazz Janewattananond (64). Catlin’s only other victory was two years ago on the Asian Developmental Tour. ... Brad Kennedy shot 8-under 64 for a three-shot victory over Hyung-Sun Kim in the Sega Sammy Cup. The 44-year-old Australian won for the first time in five years on the Japan Golf Tour. ... Ben Stow of England closed with a 7-under 65 to win his first European Challenge Tour title with a one-shot victory in the Prague Golf Challenge. Stow rallied from a three-shot deficit to win by one shot over Joel Girrbach of Switzerland. ... Marg Anguiano closed with a 6-under 65 for a two-shot victory over Joseph Harrison and Michael Gligic in the Windsor Championship on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. ... Sukwoan Ko of Canada won for the first time when he closed with a 2-under 69 to win the Jeonbuk Open on the Korean Tour. ... Jean-Francois Remesy of France claimed his first title on the Staysure Tour by closing with a 1-under 69 to win the Swiss Seniors Open by one shot over Jarmo Sandelin, Phillip Price and Miguel Angel Martin.

WOMEN

Ji-hyun2 Kim closed with a 3-under 69 for a one-shot victory over Jeong Min Cho in the Asiana Airlines Open in China on the Korean LPGA Tour. ... Sun-ju Ahn Sun shot a 5-under 67 in the final round for a two-shot victory in the Nipponham Ladies Classic on the Japan LPGA Tour.

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