WINDSOR, CALIFORNIA, April 9, 2017 - Hyemin Kim (Seoul, South Korea) built a four shot lead on the front nine, but was forced to battle on the back and untimately prevailed for her first career win at Windsor Golf Club. Kim carded a 2-under, 70 on Sunday to win the POC Med Golf Classic by two shots with a two-day total of 7-under, 137. Benyapa Niphatsophon (Bangkok, Thailand) finished second at 5-under, 139 and Sophia Popov (Heidelberg, Germany) finished third at 4-under, 140.
The tournament was shortened to a 36-hole event after Friday’s scheduled first-round was washed out due to two inches of overnight rain.
Kim earns the first-place check of $15,000.
“I tried to not think about winning today, but it is amazing,” said the 28-year-old Kim. “It has been a while without winning, but I am so happy that I was able to win on the Symetra Tour.”
Kim, who entered the day with a two-shot lead after a 5-under, 67 on Saturday, made birdies on holes three and six to build an early cushion. Niphatsophon shook things up with an eagle on eight and a birdie on nine to trim the gap to one shot as they made the turn.
Kim made bogey on 12 and Niphatsophon salvaged par and they were tied at 6-under with six holes to play. Kim took the lead back for good when Niphatsophon bogeyed 14. Kim stuck her approach shot into 15 to two feet and made birdie to build a two shot lead. Niphatsophon responded with a birdie on 16 to cut the deficit to one. Niphatsophon faltered on 17 when she hit her tee shot in the water and made a double bogey.
“When I saw the other player (Niphatsophon) playing well, my heart starting beating really fast,” said Kim. “When I made the bogey at 12, I started to think that maybe I wasn’t going to win, but I just kept the ball in position and that was key.”
Kim made par on her final three holes to seal the victory.
Kim’s mother, Inja Park, walked all 18 holes as she normally does and witnessed her daughter win for the first time.
“Golf is a family thing, we travel a lot together since I turned 16 or 17 years old,” said Kim. “I really wanted to show her that I can win. When I had my first win (in Korea), she wasn’t there, only my dad was. I’m glad that finally I gave her a trophy.”
Kim’s best year on the Symetra Tour came in 2014 when she finished 25th on the money list. She finished 58th on the money list in 2016.
“Of course this will help me a lot in getting to the LPGA,” said Kim. “I didn’t play well the last time I was in a final group a couple years ago so I’m happy with how I did to get the job done.”
The POC Med Golf Classic trophy was an engraved bottle of Kendall Jackson wine.
“I think I need to empty that whole bottle,” joked Kim. “That would be a great celebration for me.”
The Tour is off next week before beginning a two-week stretch with the Sara Bay Classic in Sarasota at Sara Bay Country Club.
EMMA HENRIKSON SAYS SAGSTROM IS ROLE MODEL
Emma Henrikson (Ljunghusen, Sweden) was filling out her rookie questionnaire while sitting in Madelene Sagstrom’s apartment this year. The question “who is your role model?” was next and Henrikson looked at Sagstrom and asked her if she could put her.
And she did put Sagstrom, who won three times in 2016 and was the Tour’s Player of the Year.
“Everyone (from Sweden) normally puts the big one’s like Annika, but I actually asked Madelene if I could put her,” said Henrikson while smiling. “I was on the national team in Sweden with her for a long time and she has always been a great ball striker and I’ve always really looked up to her. Being her friend and knowing I can beat her on a good day encourages me. Knowing that Madelene killed it last year helps me. She’s a big inspiration.”
On Saturday, Henrikson made birdie at the last to post a 2-under, 70. She moved from T71 after a 77 on day one to T18.
“My status (on the Symetra Tour) is a little worse than I wish so my goal this week was to get a good score and move up on the money list,” said Henrikson, who was making her debut. “I was putting a lot of pressure on myself after the first round so I just tried to have fun.”
“I tried to keep the ball in position and play the same as I always do,” said Kim, whose rookie year on Tour was 2012. “I tried really hard to not think about winning or posting a low number.”
Henrikson was an All-American at San Diego State.
• Lindsey Weaver (Bellefontaine, Ohio) finished solo fourth for her third top 10 finish in four starts in her rookie season on Tour.
• TLPGA player Yu-Chiang Hou (a) finished in a tie for eighth with a final-round 3-under, 69.