Despite going out of bounds off the tee at No. 17 and watching her birdie putt at No. 18 trickle tantalizingly past the hole, Sei Young Kim of the Republic of Korea captured a 1-up win over Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn at the Citibanamex Lorena Ochoa Match Play presented by Aeromexico and Delta.
“It was a really tough day today,” said Kim, who trailed for only four of the 95 holes she played at Club de Golf Mexico. “I never had such a hard win like today. I am happy that I was able to win and hold this trophy.”
Kim was on fire early, opening birdie-eagle-birdie to quickly build a 3-up lead over Jutanugarn, the third-ranked player in the world. Kim’s lead dropped to 2 up when she couldn’t convert par at No. 14. But on the 16th green, things truly started to fall apart for the 24-year-old Kim, when her short birdie putt to win the title lipped out.
Kim then sent her tee shot at the par-5 17th far right and out of bounds, forcing her to tee up a provisional. Jutanugarn saw the open door and went right through, knocking in a birdie from 12 feet to cut Kim’s lead to 1 up.
“I tried to stay calm but I really couldn’t,” said Kim. “My hands were shaking, my legs were shaking too. It was really hard to keep calm.”
Both players put their approaches to the par-4 18th within 10 feet. Kim’s putt just brushed the hole, knocking her to her knees in disbelief. She could only watch as Jutanugarn was also unable to convert her birdie, handing Kim her sixth LPGA title.
“I am really pleased, because it’s been one year that I have not played good,” said Kim, whose last win came in June 2016 at the Meijer LPGA Classic. “I got really disappointed, and even last week, I missed the cut. But this week I bounced back and had a really good result. So, I’m really happy with that.”
Prior to today, Kim’s best 2017 finish was a third-place showing at the Honda LPGA Thailand, and she missed the cut at last week’s Volunteers of America Texas Shootout presented by JTBC. She is projected to move from No. 12 to No. 8 in the Rolex Rankings. This was Jutanugarn’s third runner-up finish of the season, joining the HSBC Women’s Champions and the Bank of Hope Founders Cup. She is projected to pass So Yeon Ryu and regain her position as No. 2 in the Rolex Rankings, behind World No. 1 Lydia Ko.
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