Tanah Merah Triumph for Birthday Girl Kim

Kim jae-hee celebrated her 23rd birthday in winning style in Singapore. Picture by Hana Financial Group.

Singapore: Kim Jae-hee marked her 23rd birthday in spectacular fashion by securing her maiden Korean LPGA Tour victory in her 91st start at the Hana Financial Group Singapore Women’s Open (HFGSWO).

Kim closed with a flawless six-under 66 at Tanah Merah Country Club’s 72-par Tampines Course to secure a one-shot win from compatriot Bang Shin-sil, with whom she had started the day in joint second place.

Kim, who is ranked 24th on the KLPGA Tour, finished with a 17-under 271 total to narrowly edge out Bang, who carded a final-round 67.

For third round leader Oh Soo-min there was disappointment after she squandered a three-shot lead and settled for outright third place with a 71, finishing with a 273 total.

Oh had been aiming to become the first amateur winner on the KLPGA Tour since Choi Hye-jin in 2017, as well as the circuit’s fourth-youngest winner.

Reflecting on her success, Kim said: “This is my first victory and I feel it’s a little bit belated because I wanted to win a tournament much earlier on. But I’m very happy to begin this season with this victory. I feel very comfortable and at the same time I feel very proud.

“This is actually the first time I played on my birthday. To win this tournament I think makes it much more special. I understand I’m the third player to win on her birthday during a tournament so I will remember this day for a long time.”

With a three-shot deficit to overcome, Kim rose to the occasion, recording a hat-trick of birdies from the fourth hole and adding another on the ninth to tie for the lead with Oh at 15-under at the midway point of the final round.

Despite bogeying two of her opening three holes, Oh staged a gutsy fightback, responding with three birdies to stay at the top.

Kim’s consecutive birdies on 13 and 14 helped her pull two shots clear of the chasing pack and proved decisive.

Although both Bang and Oh kept the pressure on, Kim remained steady, warding off any potential bogeys to secure victory and the winner’s cheque of S$198,000.

World number 27 Patty Tavatanakit of Thailand tied for fourth on 13-under 275, while defending champion Park Ji-young shared 16th spot on 279. Singapore amateur Chen Xingtong, the only local player to make the cut, carded a par-72 for a one-over 289 total and finished tied-54th.

*Tanah Merah Country Club is a Facility Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.

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