South Korean Golfer Kim Hyo Joo Wins 2nd LPGA Event

kpride, March 22, 2015, 10:35 p.m.

South Korean teenager Kim Hyo-joo captured her second career LPGA Tour title in Phoenix on Sunday.  The 19-year-old took the JTBC Founders Cup on Wildfire Golf Club at JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa. Kim shot a five-under 67 in the final round for the four-round total of 21-under 267, fending off Stacy Lewis by three strokes.

Kim is the fifth different South Korean champion in six LPGA events so far in 2015. The other winner is Lydia Ko, a South Korean-born Kiwi who won in Australia last month.  Kim took home US$225,000 in the winner's check, and she's projected to rise from No. 8 to No. 4 in the world rankings when the latest standings are announced this week.

Kim won the Evian Championship, the tour's fifth major, in 2014 as a non-LPGA member. She's now playing in her first full season as an LPGA rookie in 2015.  She has played in 13 LPGA Tour events and has yet to finish outside the top 25.  Kim began the day with a two-stroke lead over Stacy Lewis at 16-under. Kim traded in two birdies with a bogey on the front nine and then picked things up on the back nine.

After a bogey on the 10th, Kim picked up four birdies over her next five holes to get to 20-under with three holes to play, two ahead of Lewis. Lewis tried to match Kim on the back nine and got to within a shot with a birdie on the 16th, where Kim only managed a par. The two stood on the 18th tee with Kim nursing a one-stroke lead. Both found the fairway off the tee, but Lewis put her second shot well behind the hole while Kim placed hers to about seven feet right of the pin.

After Lewis missed her long birdie attempt, Kim only needed two putts for the victory. The teenager stepped up and drained the birdie putt to clinch her win in style.  Lewis walked away with a three-putt bogey on the final hole to end in second place alone.

There were four more South Koreans among the top 10. Lee Il-hee and Lee Mi-hyang tied for third at 16-under, while Choi Na-yeon, who won the 2015 season opener, and Kim Sei-young, who claimed the season's second tournament, tied for sixth at 15-under.

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