A message has been sent early in 2016 that the LPGA Player of the Year race is not just a two-person chase between Lydia Ko and Inbee Park.
Ha Na Jang and Lexi Thompson have both made statements. And Sunday, it was Sei Young Kim closing with a sizzling 62 to win the JTBC Founders Cup by five strokes over Ko.
With a 27-under-par 261 total, Kim tied Annika Sorenstam’s tour record for lowest winning score in relationship to par. “It’s a dream come true,” Kim said of her final-round 10-under performance. “It’s my best score ever. I didn’t know what I shot until I added my scorecard.”
Kim, 23, the 2015 Rookie of the Year, started the day one stroke behind 2009 U.S. Women’s Open winner Eun-Hee Ji, but blew by her with birdies on five of the first eight holes at Desert Ridge’s Wildfire Golf Club in Phoenix. On the day, Kim had eight birdies, an eagle and no bogeys.
Only major champions have won the Founders Cup since its inception in 2011: Karrie Webb twice, Stacy Lewis, Yani Tseng and Hyo-Joo Kim. Sei Young Kim has yet to win a major, but you get the feeling it’s only a matter of time. Coincidentally, the first of the year—the ANA Inspiration—is in two weeks.
Kim seems ready.