It was a masterful performance by Sei Young Kim at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
She played so well Sunday that one LPGA Tour Hall of Famer went so far as saying Kim, who shot a 7-under-par 63 – the low round of the championship – was “untouchable.”
Kim, who had won 10 times on the LPGA Tour prior to Sunday – including the $1.5-million cheque that came with winning last year’s CME Group Tour Championship – had never hoisted a trophy at a major championship.
She ended that draught with authority at Aronimink Golf Club.
“I’m so excited. I’m actually really hiding my tears at the moment,” said Kim in her post-tournament press conference. “It was a major that I really wanted, so very excited and happy that I got it done.”
Golf Town athlete Brooke Henderson fell just short as she tried for her second major championship title.
She was in the final group Sunday alongside Kim and fellow KPMG Women’s PGA Championship winner Anna Nordqvist, but had a tough day tee-to-green and shot a 2-over 72. This came after a marvelous Saturday 65.
However, Brooke finished sixth, which was her third-straight top-10 result on the LPGA Tour. It was also her fifth top-10 at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in the last six years.
There was, however, no one who could top Kim on this week. She proved that when she gets on a low scoring run there are few people in women’s golf who can.
Kim already holds the scoring record for 72 holes on the LPGA Tour (she finished 31-under par at an event in 2018) and her 14-under 266 set a new tournament record for the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship Sunday.
Her closing 7-under 63 tied the single-round championship record.
“Kim is a long hitter, but at the same time she can putt really well,” said Inbee Park, who finished second to Kim and was looking to add to her LPGA Tour Hall of Fame resume with another major title this week. “Usually that combination doesn’t really come together, but when those two matches, it’s hard to beat.”
Kim said she remembered the legend Se Ri Pak winning majors in the 1990’s and early 2000’s and that’s when she knew she wanted to win a major championship herself.
The South Korean had eight top-10 finishes in major championships prior to this week but just couldn’t take it across the finish line at the biggest stages in women’s golf.
“I didn’t know it was going to take this long,” she said. “Looking back recalling other majors, I think I was really playing aggressively trying to win, but this week I tried to stay composed, focus on my game, not worrying about other factors that might affect my game, and I think that helped overall.”
While a handful of golfers made front-nine runs at the tricky Aronimink Golf Club (including Nasa Hataoka who eagled the par-4 1st and was 4-under through nine), unfortunately for the rest of the field, Kim was one of those golfers who came out of the gate hot on Sunday.
She was 3-under through nine holes and didn’t look back.
Kim added birdies on No’s 13 and 14 and No’s 16 and 17 to pull away for good from the field. She ended up topping Park’s runner-up total of 9-under by five shots.
Kim said she started to feel the pressure to win the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship last night, when she accidently set her alarm for 30 minutes later than she wished. But once she arrived on site, she was ready to go.
“I really tried to stay composed during the tournament, during the round,” said Kim, “and I’m happy that I got it done.”