South Korea’s Sei Young Kim recovered from a terrible start to win a three-way playoff on Sunday and clinch her eighth career title, capping a wild final round at the LPGA Mediheal Championship in Daly City, Calif.
Kim drained a two-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole at Lake Merced Golf Club, the par-5 18th, to beat out countrywoman Jeongeun Lee6 and Englishwoman Bronte Law, who both made par after missing short birdie tries.
Kim — who led by three strokes entering the final round — had nearly won the tournament outright on the same hole just minutes earlier, barely missing a try for eagle. She tapped in for birdie to ensure a playoff, finishing a round of 3-over 75 and tying Lee6 and Law at 7-under 281 for the tournament.
“Last putt, I got nervous and my heart almost came out,” Kim said.
Lee6 had started the day eight strokes off the lead, while Law had come from 10 back to reach the playoff.
Kim, 26, made those rallies possible by immediately giving away her advantage to open Sunday’s round, double-bogeying the par-4 first and bogeying No. 2. She also bogeyed No. 8 and remained at 4 over through 14 holes before making a charge.
“It was really frustrating, because the beginning holes,” Kim said. “I try to keep going and focus. … That taught me a lot today.”
With a birdie at the 15th, Kim tied Law — who was already in the clubhouse — for the lead. She gave it back with a bogey on 17 before the near-eagle at 18.
Lee6, meanwhile, was just 1 under on the day through 14 holes, but she eagled the par-5 15th and birdied 16 and 18, completing a round of 67.
Law also eagled the 15th, the final touch on a bogey-free round of 65. She made five birdies between Nos. 7 and 12.
Kim moved to 4-0 in playoffs on the LPGA Tour. She earned $270,000 for the win, bringing her season total to $489,346, and she is projected to move from 21st to sixth in the Race to CME Globe standings. She has now won a tournament in each of her five seasons on tour.
“My all-time goal is the Hall of Fame,” Kim said. “This season’s goal is three wins. So I’ve got one. Two to go.”
Four players tied for fourth at 5 under: Lexi Thompson (who shot 71), South Koreans Amy Yang (71) and Eun-Hee Ji (71) and Englishwoman Charley Hull (74), who began the day in second place.
Four others finished at 4 under, including Australia’s Minjee Lee, the highest-ranked player (No. 2) in the field.
Defending champion Lydia Ko of New Zealand finished in a tie for 61st at 6 over after shooting 74.