Sport & Culture

Asia Rules at First Major

Yoo Sun-young’s play-off win at the first LPGA event of the season topped off a 1-2-3 for Asian golf.

John Duerden

Only I.K. Kim knows if it’s any consolation that her mistake on the final hole of the final round of the first major of the season allowed a fellow South Korean to win.

Kim just needed to sink a one-foot putt to take the championship, but she somehow missed and Yoo Sun-young stepped in and went on to win the play-off.

It was a dramatic end to an entertaining LPGA event, although the mistake ended up costing Kim $118,000 – the difference in prize money between first and second.

She was trying to be philosophical after it all happened, and talked of learning from the situation.

“I played straight, and it actually just broke to the right, even that short putt,” Kim said. “So it was unfortunate on 18, but…I feel good about my game. It’s getting better.”

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“On the playoff hole, it’s just hard to kind of focus on what’s going on right now,” Kim said. “Because I was still a little bit bummed (about) what happened on 18, honestly.”

Kim had been consistently impressive throughout the weekend, a sharp contrast to the way it finished. It was her best performance of her career, and second was her best finish in the majors. But it could have been so much more.

Yoo was obviously delighted with what happened and after making the traditional jump into Poppie’s Pond along with her caddy, she talked of her unexpected success.

“I thought I had no chance,” Yoo said. “I thought I.K. was going to make the putt, but it didn’t happen.”

It was a fine tournament for Asia as world number one Yani Tseng came in third. The Taiwanese star would have made the play-off with the two Koreans if she had sunk a final putt – though it was much more difficult than Kim’s.

But for the season ahead it bodes well for the Asian game. South Korean golfers have been on the march in recent years. An all-Korean play-off for the first major of the season suggests that the Land of the Morning Calm is still going from strength to strength.

Still, that may be of no consolation for Kim at the moment, and she will have to show some real mental strength to bounce back after coming so close.