June 6, 2009

Kim Beats Pak By A Shot

A closing 65 gave South Korean In-Kyung Kim her second career win, beating Se Ri Pak by a stroke

Kim's win on Sunday gives her a big boost heading into the season's second major.

Kim's win on Sunday gives her a big boost heading into the season's second major.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) -- In-Kyung Kim finished with a flourish on Sunday, sinking birdies on two of her final three holes to capture the State Farm Classic by a stroke over Hall of Famer Se Ri Pak.

Kim fired a 7-under 65 to finish at 17-under 271, giving the South Korean her second Tour victory along with a big momentum boost heading into the LPGA Championship next week at Bulle Rock. In the process, she denied Pak (66) her first win in two years.

Hee-Won Han (65), Jee Young Lee (66) and Angela Stanford (67) finished two shots behind Kim.

Third-round co-leader Cristie Kerr (70) finished at 14 under along with Eun-Hee Ji (63), Paula Creamer (65), Suzann Pettersen (68), Ai Miyazato (68), Amy Hung (68) and Jiyai Shin (70).

But in a star-studded tournament that featured 49 of the top 50 money winners, Kim's finish gave her the $255,000 first prize - and a pretty good birthday present. She turns 21 next week.

On a windy, cloudy day that included a few rain drops, Kim appeared unfazed by everything.

She was at 15 under before burying back-to-back birdies on the par-5 16th and par-3 17th, and nearly made it three straight at the 18th when her 13-foot putt stopped on the edge of the cup. She crouched in agony, then tapped in for par and tossed the ball toward the bleachers in celebration.

Right after she walked off the course, play was suspended for 20 minutes due to lightning in the area, but it was already clear that she was going to win even with two groups still on the course.

"My game was pretty ready," said Kim, who won the Longs Drugs Challenge last year and was runner-up at the Michelob Ultra Open last month. "I can't control winning, so I have to play my best."

For much of the afternoon, Stanford and Pak were poised to pull out the win.

Stanford was at 16 under through 13 holes before back-to-back bogeys at 14 and 15, and Pak - tied for the lead through each of the first two rounds - was at 16 under after a birdie on the par-5 16th.

But instead of leaving Panther Creek with her first victory since the 2007 Jamie Farr Classic, Pak had to settle for second.