Even with Lydia Ko taking the week off and Inbee Park withdrawing because of a bad back, the LPGA got its 2016 season off to a rousing start at a Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic, a tournament that displayed the tour’s depth.
A sizzling Sunday on the Ocean Course at Paradise Island started with major championship winners Anna Nordqvist, Stacy Lewis and Hyo Joo Kim as well as 19-year-old English sensation Charley Hull and 2015 Rolex Rookie of the year Sei Young Kim atop the leader board. It ended with H.J. Kim holding the trophy after a closing 66 that left her at 18-under 274, two strokes better than Lewis, Nordqvist and S.Y. Kim.
For H.J. Kim, 20, it was her third tour victory, including the 2014 Evian Championship. Kim birdied three holes in a row on the front nine (Nos. 4-6) and three in a row on the back (Nos. 12-14) to break clear of the field.
Lewis and S.Y. Kim both closed with a 68 and Nordqvist a 69. Lewis needed an eagle on the par-5 18th to force a playoff. She had to settle for par and a ninth runner-up finish since she last won on the LPGA Tour in June 2014. Lewis has now had 22 career second-place showings to go with her 11 tour wins.