Sei Young Kim shot a sensational 7-under 63 on Sunday to earn her first major title at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
The 27-year-old South Korean finished at 14-under 266 at Aronimink Golf Course, winning the major that had eluded her so far in her career. Kim had 10 wins entering the tournament, which made her the winningest active player without a major championship.
Her 63 was the best round of the tournament. She finished five shots ahead of runner-up Inbee Park, who shot a solid 65 on Sunday.
“Sei Young was just really untouchable,” Park said.
Kim, a 2016 Olympian, was runner-up at the 2015 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and tied for second at the Evian Championship in 2018. Kim held the 54-hole lead at a major once, at the 2015 ANA Inspiration, where she finished in a tie for fourth.
She sealed the championship with a round to remember at Aronimink. Kim’s fifth birdie of the day at the par-3 14th gave her a four-shot lead over Park and put her at 12 under for the championship.
‘Hard to believe that she never won a major before’
She earned $645,000 US for the victory. Kim has at least one win in every LPGA Tour season since 2015.
“It was just so hard to believe that she never won a major before because it felt like she won a few,” Park said.
Nasa Hataoka and Carlota Ciganda tied for third at 7 under. Anna Nordqvist (4 under) and Canada’s Brooke Henderson (3 under) both played in Kim’s group and finished fifth and sixth.
Kim is the latest addition to a growing list of first-time major winners in recent years, a sign of growing parity. Her victory means nine of the last 10 major champions had never won one before. She joins Sophia Popov (Women’s British Open) and Mirim Lee (ANA Inspiration) as this year’s major champions.
Kim dazzled at another event without the roar of the galleries — though Toronto Raptors star Kyle Lowry walked the course — and held off a hard-charging Park. Park had three birdies on the front nine as she tried to match Mickey Wright with a record fourth win at the Women’s PGA Championship.
Tournament was delayed 3 months
“I thought 65 will definitely do it,” Park said. “I was thinking maybe like five to six under is a good number to kind of post and just see what happens. But obviously Sei Young was just much better than anyone else out there today.”
As she approached 18, the trophy sitting out near the hole for her to see, pretty much everyone out at Aronimink lined the ropes. She got a big ovation after her tap-in sealed the win.
With Paul Fusco on the bag, Kim matched a tournament record with a 29 on the front nine on Friday and shot a 32 for the front nine on Sunday. Fusco kept it loose, even walking over to compliment a reporter for a story (“really cool”) before Kim teed off on No. 8.
Kim hit the putt of her life last November at Tiburon Golf Club, a 25-foot birdie on the final hole of the CME Group Tour Championship to win $1.5 million, the richest prize in the history of women’s golf.
The money is far less at Aronimink — but the prestige means so much more.
The tournament was delayed three months because of the coronavirus pandemic, landing its final round smack on a packed sports Sunday. The PGA of America had to get creative with the tee times with NBC having other programming commitments on the weekend and the leaders — including Kim — teed off at 8:49 a.m ET.
Founded in 1896, Aronimink has hosted a number of significant golf events during its storied history, including the 1962 PGA Championship won by Gary Player. Aronimink’s golf course was designed by Donald Ross in 1926 and is off the major schedule until the PGA Championship in 2026.