LPGA rookie Grace Kim wins Lotte Championship in third start as a tour player
Rookie Grace Kim clinched her first LPGA title in only her third start as a tour player. The 22-year-old Australian, who counts Karrie Webb as a mentor, smiled her way through the traditional winner’s hula dance at the Lotte Championship. The rookie shied away from nothing en route to a playoff victory over Yu Liu and Yu Jin Sung.
Kim birdied the last two holes in regulation and then birdied the 18th once again in overtime to collect the $300,000 winner’s check. She also played her way into next week’s Chevron Champions, the first major of the season.
“I guess it was a good day after all,” said Kim, who played aggressively throughout the final round.
Sung, who was trying to become the first sponsor invite to win on the LPGA since Lydia Ko in 2013, pulled out her makeup compact on the 18th tee in regulation. After the touchup, the Korean LPGA player made birdie on the last hole to join the playoff.
Sung had held at least a share of the lead since the second round, and faltered for the first time in the playoff when she thinned her third shot back over the green.
Lui was tied for 15th entering the final round and waited well over an hour for the playoff to commence. She closed with a 64 to vault into the clubhouse lead at 12 under.
Georgia Hall, the most decorated player on the board Saturday, looked poised to make a run after making a first-class par save on the ninth. Hall, a major champion, recently finished runner-up at the DIO Implant LA Open and LPGA Drive On Championship and came up short once again in Hawaii after her putter went cold down the stretch. The Englishwoman last won on the LPGA at the 2020 Portland Classic.
Sweden’s Linnea Strom battled at the top until a double-bogey on the par-4 14th gave her an uphill fight. The 2022 Epson Tour Player of the Year needed to get up and down from the front bunker for birdie on the 18th hole to get into the playoff. She closed with a 69 to take a share of fourth.
Kim is a four-time winner of the Karrie Webb Scholarship and was on hand at Hazeltine when fellow scholarship winner Hannah Green won the KPMG Women’s PGA. The scholarship comes with an all-expense-paid trip to an LPGA major with Webb.
“This win is definitely a credit to her for sure,” said Kim, who is the first rookie to win since Atthaya Thitikul captured her second 2022 victory at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship last September.