Sei Young Kim Wins First Major, Ko Finishes 18th

Sei Young Kim with the KPMG US PGA Championship trophy (LPGA/USPGA)
Sei Young Kim with the KPMG US PGA Championship trophy (LPGA/USPGA)

Current World Number 7 Sei Young Kim shrugged away the doubters today by winning her first major title at the US PGA Championship, her 11th title in total while Kiwi Lydia Ko finished tied for 18th.

The 27-year-old South Korean Kim chewed up Aronimink Golf Club in record style, shooting a 7-under 63 on Sunday to win the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

She was five strokes better than runner-up Inbee Park, never seriously challenged on the arduous course in suburban Philadelphia.

Ko finished with a 1-over 71 to finish on 3-over, 17 shots behind Kim, after hitting three bogeys on the front nine before coming home with two birdies including a 16-foot putt for birdie on the 13th that surprised everyone including Ko herself.

For Kim, her dominance was in plain sight. She finished at 14-under 266. Her final-round 63 tied a tournament record, and her 266 set the championship scoring record.

Kim, who earned her 11th LPGA victory, got the championship push rolling when she matched a tournament record with a 29 on the front nine on Friday. She never really slowed down.

“I’m actually really hiding my tears at the moment,” she said, standing next to the trophy.

“It was a major that I really wanted, so very excited and happy that I got it done.

“I stuck to my game plan. Just focussed one shot at a time. I didn’t want to play like this was my final round but just stick to my momentum that I’ve played all week, so that worked out.”

Kim, a 2016 Olympian, was runner-up at the 2015 Women’s PGA Championship and tied for second at the Evian Championship in 2018.

Kim held the 54-hole lead at a major once, at the 2015 ANA Inspiration, where she finished in a tie for fourth.

She clinched the championship with a round to remember at Aronimink. Kim’s fifth birdie of the day at the par-3 14th gave her a four-shot lead over Inbee Park and put her at 12 under for the championship.

She earned $645,000 for the victory. Kim has at least one win in every LPGA Tour season since 2015.

“Looking back recalling those tournaments, 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.” Kim said.

“I made a small mistake on No. 2 with my approach shot. I made a long par putt to keep my momentum going. I think that was a moment that really I thought changed it today.”

The tournament was delayed three months because of the coronavirus pandemic, landing its final round smack on a packed sports Sunday.

The PGA of America had to get creative with the tee times with NBC having other programming commitments on the weekend and the leaders — including Kim — teed off at 8:49 a.m.

Founded in 1896, Aronimink has hosted a number of significant golf events during its storied history, including the 1962 PGA Championship won by Gary Player.

Aronimink’s golf course was designed by Donald Ross in 1926 and is off the major schedule until the PGA Championship in 2026.

Advertisement Sign up to our NZ Golf Updates