LAUREN KIM CLOSES WIN WITH TOURNAMENT RECORD 63
WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — Not even an hour and a half fog delay could slow down Lauren Kim (Los Altos, California) today, as the Stanford University alumna fired a bogey-free, 9-under par 63 in the final round to claim the 2018 Florida’s Natural Charity Classic.
“It’s surreal right now. Kind of a work in progress and something I’m really proud of, to be able to come back from the off-season and win the first event,” said Kim. “Today just went my way. It kind of didn’t feel so hard to shoot 9-under. You wonder why it doesn’t happen more often. The putts were just rolling my way and I was hitting good shots. A lot to be proud of.”
Kim wrapped up her Florida’s Natural Charity Classic tournament-record score of 63 with an eagle on No. 18. The previous mark was held by Angela Oh, who shot a 65 in the second round of the 2010 Florida’s Natural Charity Classic, back when the Country Club of Winter Haven was actually the Lake Region Yacht and Country Club.
After going 1-under par over the first two rounds, Kim wasn’t sure winning the event was a possibility. She was more concerned about continuing to find consistency in her game. However, those around her planted the seed of belief.
“I was telling Charlotte (Thomas) last night, we had dinner and she’s like, ‘It’s not impossible to win it.’ And I said, ‘Well, I have to shoot like 8-under.’ I kind of brushed it off and then somehow I went off today,” Kim said. “At certain points through my back nine I had it in the back of my mind. I tried not to let myself get too far ahead because I knew there were great players behind me and I didn’t know what they were going to do. I knew that I had to shoot a good score.”
Entering the day, Daniela Iacobelli (Melbourne, Florida) and Hyemin Kim (Seoul, Republic of Korea) were tied for the lead at 5-under. For Hyemin Kim, she struggled to the tune of 2-over, finishing tied for seventh at 3-under.
Meanwhile, Iacobelli made a run, but could not overcome Lauren Kim’s performance, as she carded a 4-under 68 to finish solo second. Along the way, Iacobelli captured four birdies, with only two bogeys on the afternoon, and capped her performance with an eagle on No. 18.
“I had three eagle opportunities and converted one. I had one bad swing all day and it cost me a bogey,” said Iacobelli. “I probably haven’t hit the ball that well in months, if not years. Most of my putts for birdie were inside 20-25 feet. If they fall, I shoot 59. They didn’t fall, I shoot 68. I have nothing to be upset about.”
Looking at the final leaderboard, five countries were represented in the top-10.
As for the champion, Lauren Kim takes away $18,750 and secures the No. 1 position on the 2018 Race for the Card money list. It is her first-ever Symetra Tour victory.
“Through my back nine I knew I was in the lead, but I just kept pressing,” Kim said. “I kept wanting to make more birdies because I didn’t know what the winning score would be.”
MARCHAND FINISHES SOLO THIRD
At one point in the final round, Brittany Marchand (Mississauga, Ontario) took the lead at 7-under par, thanks to three consecutive birdies from Nos. 3-5.
She started out strong and ended with a 3-under par (69) to conclude the 10th annual Florida’s Natural Charity Classic in solo third at 7-under overall. The only thing that kept her from a real low number, Marchand said, was her putter.
“Backed her up with a couple bogeys, couple three putts. Just a little aggressive on the putting,” said Marchand. “I still felt like I knew I was hitting it well. I tried to erase those and had a little shaky middle. Gave myself a few more opportunities on the back. Another three-putt on No. 16, which is killer. I made three three-putts and shot three-under. There’s potential for sure.”
Performing as well as she did in the first tournament of the year, Marchand has plenty to build on.
“You can’t do anything about Lauren,” Marchand said with a smile on her face. “That’s just amazing. I’m happy with how I came out. I shot better today than I did the last two days. I just wanted to be able to play a solid round and let the chips fall where they did.”
SECOND STRAIGHT DAY FOR A HOLE-IN-ONE
Make it back-to-back days for an ace to be recorded at the Florida’s Natural Charity Classic, as Becca Huffer (Denver, Colorado) earned the honor in the final round today.
The action took place on No. 17. Huffer grabbed a 4-iron out of her bag and watched it sail 183 yards before the ball found its home.
“There was a little wind left-to-right, a little into us. This week I’m just trying to hit the ball straight,” Huffer said laughingly “Went up there and was like, ‘This should be a good club for it, into the wind.’ It was going straight at it, bounced and August (Kim) said, ‘Get in the hole,’ and it rolled in. It was just fun. Saw it go in and everything.”
Huffer and August Kim (St. Augustine, Florida) were the first pairing off No. 1 tee following this morning’s fog delay. Both started the round at 5-over par.
By the time they were done—three hours, 10 minutes later—Huffer signed her card reading 6-under par (66). She went from sneaking in the cut line and being tied for 54th, to ending tied for 14th at 1-under overall.
“Probably best golf and fastest round that we’ve ever had,” said Huffer. “It was really fun. Can’t complain about the day. It’s a good round to start off the year, really nice to have a round like this after coming down and practicing all week.”