Oneida, Wis. — Sei Young Kim watched her 12-foot birdie putt break toward the hole and disappear into the cup, putting her in territory no one had ever been on the LPGA Tour.
She reached 30-under par in the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic.
And she wasn’t finished.
Kim added yet another birdie, closed with a 7-under 65 and wound up her historic week Sunday in Wisconsin at 31 under for a nine-shot victory.
“I never thought I’d shoot 31 under,” Kim said. “I really feel incredible.”
She was every bit of that in a week so dominant that she now has two LPGA scoring records all to herself.
Kim’s 31 under broke by four shots to par the record she had shared with Annika Sorenstam. Kim won the 2016 Founders Cup at 27 under, while Sorenstam won the 2001 Standard Register Ping at 27 under, the tournament where the Swede shot 59.
“After the Founders Cup, I got new goals,” she said. “I wish I could break up the (tour) record. It’s really unbelievable.”
Kim also set the 72-hole scoring record at 257, finishing with three straight pars to break the mark by one shot.
The 25-year-old from South Korea opened with a 63, followed with a 65 and shot a 64 on Saturday to reach 24 under, which tied Sorenstam’s 54-hole record in 2003 at the Mizuno Classic in Japan, a 54-hole event.
“In a word, phenomenal,” said defending champion Katherine Kirk, who finished 15 under and tied for 20th. “We knew that you could go low around this golf course, but she’s taken it to a whole other level. It’s pretty exciting to watch, really. She’s going to break our all-time, 72-hole scoring record pretty easily. She’s a great player. She obviously knows how to win. She just kept the foot down.”
The only blemish for Kim all week at Thornberry Creek at Oneida was a double bogey in the second round Friday. She had 31 birdies and one eagle, another record for most sub-par holes in a tournament. Kim hit 67 out of 72 greens in regulation.
For all the birdies, Kim set the LPGA Tour record with a par on the final hole to finish at 257. Hee Young Park won a playoff after she and Angela Stanford each finished at 258 in the Manulife Classic in Canada in 2013 (par 71), while Karen Stupples shot 258 at the Welch’s/Fry’s Championship in Arizona in 2004 (par 70).
“I had the double-bogey on 17. That was the only one I had where I missed the shot. It’s crazy,” Kim said.
She reached 28 under with a tap-in birdie on the par-5 ninth. Kim began the back nine with another birdie when her wedge from about 100 yards stopped a few feet from the hole, setting up her birdie on the 12th.
Kim won by five over Lydia Ko when she shot 27 under in the Founders Cup two years ago. Sorenstam won by two over Se Ri Pak when she shot her 27 under at Moon Valley at a tournament that no longer exists.
Kevin Na rode a hot putter to halt a winless streak of nearly seven years on the PGA Tour.
Na shot a 6-under-64 for a five-stroke victory at A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier.
The 34-year-old Na’s only previous tour win came in Las Vegas in October 2011.
“I wasn’t sure if it was going to come again. I was hoping it would – sooner than later,” Na said. “I’ve been close so many times, failed so many times.”
He’s had three dozen top-10 finishes since that last win and showed signs earlier this year that reaching the top again was still well within reach. He tied for second at the Genesis Open in January, two shots behind Bubba Watson. In late May he shot 61 in the first round of the Fort Worth Invitational to match the course record and finished fourth.
Starting Sunday’s round one stroke behind co-leaders Harold Varner and Kelly Kraft, Na birdied six of his first 10 holes to open a big lead on the Old White TPC, and he cruised from there. The only blemish on his card was a bogey on the par-4 11th after driving into the rough.
Na finished at 19-under 261 and picked up the $1.31 million winner’s paycheck. He improved 40 spots to No. 18 in the FedEx Cup standings.
Kraft shot 70 and finished second at 14 under. Brandt Snedeker (64) and Jason Kokrak (67) tied for third at 13 under.
Na was one shot behind co-leaders Kraft and Harold Varner to begin the day. His birdie stretch included making putts of 24, 33 and 43 feet.
“My putter got hot,” Na said. “The first day the putter felt awful, and (then) it just clicked. Every time I got over the ball it felt great, and everything felt like it was going in.”
By the time he strolled up to the 18th green, Na was at ease, relaying his love to his wife and young daughter toward a TV camera. He cried during a television interview after the round as he relayed a message in Korean to his overseas fans.
“I didn’t want to leave the Korean fans out,” Na said.
The only drama down the stretch was who would pick up the last of the tournament’s four qualifying spots to the British Open in two weeks. Na had already earned a spot. Varner needed to make a birdie putt on either No. 17 or 18 to get there, but he parred both holes. That gave the final spot to Austin Cook.
Kraft, Kokrak and Snedeker were the other qualifiers. The leading four players not already exempt from the top-12 finishers qualified.
Kraft said his first British Open bid helped take away some of the sting of losing the lead Sunday.
“Obviously, I would have loved to win after leading coming into today, but, you know, sometimes you run into a guy that makes a lot of putts,” Kraft said.
No third-round leader has gone on to win the tournament since its debut in 2010. Varner shot 72 and finished tied for fifth at 12 under along with Cook (66), Joaquin Niemann (64), Sam Saunders (70) and Joel Dahmen (69).
The 19-year-old Niemann already has four top-10 finishes in eight events this season and has secured special temporary membership on tour.
Defending champion Xander Schauffele, who was one shot behind when the round started, bogeyed five of his first six holes. He shot 75 and finished 11 shots back.
Russell Knox of Scotland holed nearly identical putts of 40 feet on the 18th hole, first to get into a playoff, and then to beat Ryan Fox and win the Irish Open for his first European Tour victory.
Knox won for the first time in two years, most recently at the Travelers Championship during his bid to make the Ryder Cup team.
Knox closed with a 6-under 66 to set the clubhouse target at 14-under par. Fox missed an 8-foot birdie putt for the victory. In the playoff, Knox hit wedge from 131 yards to nearly the same spot on the 18th green, and his long birdie putt curled left to right and into the cup.
Fox had an 8-foot birdie putt to extend the playoff, but it caught the lip and spun away.
Knox, who tied for second at the French Open last week, goes to No. 5 in the Race to Dubai and will get back into the top 50 in the world.
Fox, who shot a 68, earned one of three spots to the British Open in two weeks at Carnoustie. Zander Lombard of South Africa and Andy Sullivan of England earned the other two spots.
Defending champion Jon Rahm tied for fourth, while tournament host Rory McIlroy closed with a 71 and tied for 28th.
Nelson Ledesma of Argentina seized control with three straight birdies at the turn, and he closed with a 5-under 67 for a two-shot victory in the Lecom Health Challenge for his first Web.com Tour victory.
Ledesma had missed eight cuts in 15 starts in his first Web.com Tour season, and his best finish was in Panama to start the season. The victory was worth $108,000 and moved him from 101st to 24th on the money list. The top 25 earn PGA Tour cards at the end of the season.
Ledesma went into the final round at Peek ‘n Peak Resort one shot behind Sebastian Munoz, who had two bogeys in the opening four holes and never caught up. Jones fell back with a bogey on the par-3 fifth, and then Ledesma birdied his final three holes on the front nine and built a three-shot lead.
He finished off a bogey-free final round to post a 22-under 266, two shots clear of Jones (69) Munoz, who birdied his last two holes to salvage a 70.
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