(Reuters) – South Korean Kim A Lim birdied her final three holes to come from behind and win the U.S. Women’s Open by one stroke and claim her first major title in Houston on Monday.
Kim started the final round five strokes back and was trailing leader Amy Olson by two shots through 15 holes when she caught fire on a cold morning to finish the final round with a 67.
Kim tied the record for the biggest comeback in the tournament. The final round of the event, which was rescheduled from June to December due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was delayed by a day due to bad weather.
“I’m really glad,” said the 25-year-old Kim, who was making her tournament debut.
“Through COVID-19 we had a lot of difficulties, but I’m glad we had the U.S. Women’s Open in Houston. It was a great win.”
Kim said she was aware she was trailing heading into the final three holes and said she knew she would have to step up her game to earn the trophy and the $1 million in prize money.
“I’d been eyeing the leaderboard throughout the round and I knew how many shots I was back,” she said.
“That’s probably the reason why I tried to hit more aggressive, tried to more attack the pins.”
The outcome was a heartbreaking for Olson, who was mourning the passing of her father-in-law, who died unexpectedly on Saturday.
“Coming out this morning I had no idea what to expect,” said Olson, who finished her round of 72 with a birdie.
“It was just one of those things I felt very weak and helpless the last couple days, and probably the same went today on the golf course.
“I really believe the Lord just carried me through. It just makes you realise how much bigger life is than golf. But I’m pleased with my finish overall.”
It was the third top 10 finish at a major for Olson, who is still searching for her first win on the LPGA Tour.
World number one Ko Jin-young of South Korea birdied two of her final three holes to finish tied for second alongside Olson.
“I had a great round today,” she said.
“I had a couple missed putts, but I finished good.”
South Korea is a major force at the tournament, having produced 10 of the last 16 winners.
Japan’s Hinako Shibuno and American Megan Khang rounded up the top five at the Champions Golf Club, which had no spectators due to the pandemic.
(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles, editing by Pritha Sarkar)