Hyo Joo Kim dodged a late charge from Hinako Shibuno to win the LPGA Tour LOTTE Championship on Saturday.
Kim closed with a 1-under 71 – after a bogey at the par-4 17th with a birdie tapped at the par-5 18th – to finish 11-under 277, two strokes clear of Shibuno at the Breezy Hoakalei Country Club .
Kim won $300,000 for her fifth LPGA Tour title.
“There was a lot of expectation, but also a lot of support from friends and family,” said Kim, who won a major at 19 at the 2014 Evian Championship. ups and downs and i think i’m at the top right now and i feel very proud, a bit confident about the future and the outlook looks bright for me and i feel i can do better to go forward.”
The 26-year-old South Korean star had a three-stroke lead after the second and third rounds and held off a final push from Shibuno, the Japanese player who has a bogey-free 70.
Kim played the first nine in 1 under. She put her approach on the par-5 fifth hole, which played 540 yards, inside 3 feet to set up a birdie. She birdied the No. 8, but missed the par-3 ninth hole which went from 146 yards in the third round to 184 for the final round.
Kim birdied No. 18 after a bit of drama. She missed the fairway with her tee shot and found the right rough. His second shot crossed the fairway and nestled in the first cut of the left rough. With her third, however, Kim recovered with a throwing shot that left her with a tap-in,
Kim is one of 10 players who have played in all 10 LOTTE Championships since the tournament began in 2012.
“I’ve been playing in the LOTTE Championship since the inaugural championship, then because LOTTE is my personal sponsor, I always wanted to win and do well,” she said.
Shibuno left herself with just over 200 yards to the front of the green with her second of 18 shots, but her ball hit the edge of a greenside bunker and landed. She then equalized the hole.
“I was having a lot of fun playing with her. My putting was a little, you know, I couldn’t get in, so that was the (difference) with her,” Shibuno said.
Hye-Jin Choi finished third at 7 under after a 69.
Brianna Do, who played in the final group alongside Kim and Shibuno, started the round three shots off the lead but struggled with a 77 and finished tied for 12th. Do was looking to become the third local qualifier to win an LPGA Tour event and the first since Brooke Henderson at the 2015 Portland Classic.