In Kyung Kim won the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters by three strokes on Saturday, but Michelle Wie gave the South Korean a run for her money.
A strong finish to a round of 68 coupled to a dramatic final-hole show from Wie saw Kim win with a four round aggregate of 18-under-par 270 at the season-ending tournament on the Ladies European Tour.
Kim, playing on an invitation, was placed eighth after a first round of 70 but she shot into pole position after a second round of 65 and never looked back. She earned a three stroke lead after a third round of 67 and sealed the win with a birdie on the par-five 18th hole, which was her fifth of the day.
“I'm very excited to win this week,” said Kim, 21, who took up golf at the age of nine but moved to the USA from South Korea aged 16. “Michelle had a great turn. She had six birdies until 13 and was very impressive. But I tried to keep playing my game, and I think, yeah, I did a good job.”
Wie finished second after a sizzling 65, which included seven birdies on the Majlis Course at Emirates Golf Club.
She was 15 under par with only the 515-yard par-five 18th to play but her title hopes drowned as she hit her second shot into the lake short of the green. She managed to save par after an excellent recovery shot to within three feet of the hole from over the lake.
“All I had to do was go left at least. I just didn't put a good swing on it. It was just stupid,” Wie said. “I feel like I had a good run going. Just the 18th hole, I was kind of annoyed by that second shot. But you know, other than that, I felt like I tried my hardest out there and I gave it my all. If I fall a little short, I tried my best today.”
The first round leader Maria Hjorth of Sweden finished with 68 to take outright third at 14-under. Four players, including the newly named Ryder Cup Wales Rookie of the Year Anna Nordqvist, tied for fourth at 11-under, 277.
Sophie Gustafson of Sweden won the Ladies European Tour Henderson Money List title after finishing 6-under and tied for 14th, which good enough to beat Catriona Matthew of Scotland, who finished at eight-under in 12th place. Gustafson earned €281,315 for the season compared to Matthew’s winnings of €259,871.29.
Kim made a shaky start to the final round when she three putted for a bogey at the first hole, but she quickly recovered, rolling in a 20-footer for birdie at the second and then picking another shot at the next hole.
With conditions wet after overnight rain the course was playing a little longer but Kim said, “The greens get hard on the weekend but the rain really helped.”
She hit 100 percent of the greens in regulation on the back nine and birdied holes 10, 15 and 18 to seal the first prize of €75,000 and earn a special watch, courtesy of the title sponsor, Omega. Kim thanked the Korean fans for supporting her from behind the ropes, and her caddie, Terry McNamara, who worked for Annika Sorenstam when she won the title in 2006 and 2007 on the same course.
“He helped me with the plan on the golf course and you know kind of breathing,” Kim said. “Today's plan was get up to 18-under. But it took a while to get there. Yeah, just little by little; try to make birdie on the par 5s.”
With her win, Kim has the opportunity to become a member of the Ladies European Tour and she said that she might come and play in a few more events in future years.
At a post-round press conference, she finished by saying, “Also, it's so funny -- not funny, but what's
kind of great for me this week is everybody knows my name, because on the LPGA Tour, there are so many Kims, so they can't really tell the difference. But this week, I felt so special, you know what I mean?”
Kim arrived at the tournament as a virtual unknown on the Ladies European Tour, but after her win, she will be considered very special indeed.
photos Janos Schmidt