In-Kyung Kim saved her best until last as she strolled to a five-shot victory in the ISPS HANDA Ladies European Masters at Golf Club Hubbelrath in Germany.
One behind overnight, the 28-year-old South Korean closed with a bogey-free nine-under 63 – the best round of the week – to finish at 17-under par.
The world number 75 earned her second win in three appearances in the Ladies European Tour’s showcase event, albeit at two different venues. She previously won the title in 2014 at Buckinghamshire Golf Club in England where she also shot a 63, in the third round.
Kim said: “It’s a totally different feeling because then we played in England and now we’re playing in Germany. There is such a big Korean community in Germany because after the war a lot of people came for work and stayed here. It means a lot to be the only Korean in the field, so I wanted to play well, but you cannot force golf; it’s four rounds.”
This was Kim’s sixth career victory, and third on the Ladies European Tour, after her win in the 2009 Dubai Ladies Masters. She now intends to take up LET membership with a winner’s exemption category in 3a. However, Belen Mozo of Spain will have to wait for another week after returning a 69 for solo second.
The 27-year-old from Cadiz aced the 13th hole in the final round, but missed out on winning an Omega watch, as it had already been claimed by Finland’s Noora Tamminen on the same hole earlier in the day. She said: “I wasn’t paying attention to the scores however I did glimpse the scoreboard on 12 and I saw IK Kim minus 15. I knew she was a great player but I didn’t expect it.”
Home heroine Sandra Gal tied for third with Sweden’s Camilla Lennarth, while South African Lee-Anne Pace was fifth and the 2015 champion Beth Allen of the United States tied for sixth with Finland’s Ursula Wikstrom. Burnett was joint second overnight but faded out of contention with a 78 for joint 20th place.
It was Kim, in her 10th year as a professional, who called the shots almost at will in the final round, posting nine birdies in delightful conditions.
Kim picked up her first shot on the second hole and followed that with three birdies in a row from the fifth. After turning in four-under, she added another birdie at the 10th and picked up three more strokes from the 12th, finishing in style by sinking with a birdie putt of five-feet on the uphill par-4 18th.
“I really wanted to shoot something lower than 63, because I have shot 63 before, but that is something I cannot control. I had a lot of chances today,” said Kim, who enjoyed learning German and eating the local cuisine on her first visit to Germany. “I did my best on every shot from the first day and today it just kind of came together with some good putts. I had 26 putts today. Yesterday I hit the ball as well but the putts didn’t fall.”
Lennarth birdied the last three holes for a 67 and Gal, who signed off with a 69, was happy with a tie for third, saying: “In-Kyung ran away with it today. We were battling against each other in the last group and didn’t see a leader board for several holes but when we did, she was already so far ahead that we didn’t have a chance.”
Norwegian Marianne Skarpnord finished eighth while Aditi Ashok tied for ninth with fellow LET rookie Angel Yin of the United States and Sweden’s Caroline Hedwall, which was the Indian rookie’s best finish this year on tour.
After a week of sensational weather and world class golf in Germany, the LET remains in Europe for the Evian Championship in France, which will be the fifth and final Major of the year.
(Pictured right: In-Kyung Kim planted a Fagus Sylvatica tree at Golf Club Hubbelrath in support of the club’s “Golf and Nature” programme).