19 Years Old And a Major Champion
By Torleif Sorenson on 9/16/14
Who is Hyo-Joo Kim? Golf's newest — and third-youngest — major champion, that's who.
Kim first made headlines on Thursday when she scorched the Évian Resort with an opening-round 61, topping Karrie Webb by four shots. Of course, Webb's own 65 would have been enough to make headlines by itself, were it not for a 19-year-old from Wonju, South Korea, playing her first-ever round in a major. In fact, when Webb won her first major at the 1995 Women's British Open, Hyo-Joo Kim was a month-and-a-half old!
Kim's Thursday 61 broke the old single-round LPGA major record of 62, shot by Minea Blomqvist at the 2004 Women's British Open and the since-retired Lorena Ochoa at the 2006 Dinah Shore.
On Sunday, Kim started with a one-shot lead and notched birdies at 2, 9, 11, and 12. But at the same time that she was bogeying 14 and 16, Webb birdied 14 and 15. Needless to say, the conclusion was stunning:
Before last week, Kim's plans were simply to gain some major championship experience, then attempt to gain her LPGA Tour card. Now, Q-school is off her calendar — and all of the LPGA's majors and other high-profile tournaments are now on her calendar, big time.
Kim now becomes the third-youngest golfer ever to win a women's major, behind only Morgan Pressel (18 years, 10 months, 9 days at 2007 Dinah Shore) and Lexi Thompson (19 years, 1 month, 27 days at the 2014 Dinah Shore). She also joins a very elite group of golfers, including Jack Nicklaus and Annika Sörenstam, whose first victory as a professional came at a major championship.
Despite her young age and having played in only eight LPGA events, Kim was ranked 20th in the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings before this week. Now, she is projected to be number 10 following her big win.
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