(LEAD) S. Korean LPGA star Kim Hyo-joo wins European Tour event at home


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By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, May 12 (Yonhap) — South Korean LPGA star Kim Hyo-joo won the very first Ladies European Tour (LET) tournament held on her home soil Sunday.

Kim shot 10-under 206 at the weather-interrupted Aramco Team Series at New Korea Country Club in Goyang, on the northwestern outskirts of Seoul. Kim, world No. 12, shot a four-under 68 on Sunday to hold off eighth-ranked Charley Hull by three strokes for the wire-to-wire win.

Kim Hyo-joo of South Korea tees off during the final round of the Aramco Team Series tournament at New Korea Country Club in Goyang, northwest of Seoul, on May 12, 2024, in this photo provided by Performance54. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Kim Hyo-joo of South Korea tees off during the final round of the Aramco Team Series tournament at New Korea Country Club in Goyang, northwest of Seoul, on May 12, 2024, in this photo provided by Performance54. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

This was the second leg of the Aramco Team Series, presented by the Public Investment Fund, Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund. It was also the first LET event taking place in South Korea.

The second round of this three-round event was cut short by heavy downpours on Saturday, forcing players to complete their middle round early Sunday before playing the final round. At six-under through 36 holes, Kim held a two-stroke lead over Mariajo Uribe of Colombia entering the third round, with Hull sitting another shot back in third place.

Hull poured in five birdies on the front nine to cut Kim’s lead to one, while Uribe dropped out of contention with bogeys on three of her first five holes.

Kim and Hull recorded pars on the first four holes of the back nine, before Kim gave herself some breathing room with a birdie at the 14th.

She then grabbed a three-stroke lead with another birdie at the 16th. Her consecutive birdie at the par-5 17th sealed the deal.

A bogey at the 18th was Kim’s only blemish in the final round.

Kim’s previous LET victory came in September 2014 at the Evian Championship, an LPGA major co-sanctioned by the LET.

Kim Hyo-joo of South Korea tees off on the 10th hole during the first round of the Aramco Team Series tournament at New Korea Country Club in Goyang, northwest of Seoul, on May 10, 2024, in this photo provided by Performance54. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Kim Hyo-joo of South Korea tees off on the 10th hole during the first round of the Aramco Team Series tournament at New Korea Country Club in Goyang, northwest of Seoul, on May 10, 2024, in this photo provided by Performance54. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

“I feel really energized after winning this tournament in Korea,” Kim said. “I am thankful for the support of the fans here all week. It’s extra special to win on one of my favorite courses.”

Kim said Hull’s early birdie barrage pushed her during the final round.

“Watching Hull making so many birdies fueled my competitive fire,” Kim said. “I was able to stay locked in because I was up against such a good player.”

Kim also said this win should be a positive turning point of her season ahead of the U.S. Women’s Open, the second major championship of the season beginning May 30, and the Paris Olympics.

The top-15 players in the world rankings are eligible for the Olympics and Kim is well on her way to her second Olympic appearance after Tokyo three years ago.

The US$1 million Aramco tournament also featured a team competition.

Team captains, seeded based on their world ranking positions, selected one additional player to join their team. Each side was then randomly assigned an amateur player and another professional player from the remaining pool.

The foursome led by Korean American veteran Danielle Kang won the team event at 23-under after 36 holes. They held off the team captained by Johanna Gustavsson of Sweden by two strokes.

The Aramco event used a “two-from-four” scoring system for the team competition over the first two days, meaning the two best scores on each hole counted for teams.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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