EVIAN-LES-BAINS, France (AP) — Going up against a seven-time major winner more than twice her age, it was teenager Hyo-Joo Kim who showed the calm nerves of a veteran.
Kim came from a shot back on the last hole to beat Australian great Karrie Webb by one shot on Sunday and win the Evian Championship, becoming the third youngest major winner at 19 years, 2 months.
The South Korean trailed the 39-year-old Webb heading into the 18th but turned the tables with a birdie from 12 feet out. Webb then missed a chance to force a playoff when a difficult attempt for par from the same distance drifted left of the hole.
“I feel very happy, like a bird,” Kim said through a translator. “I want to fly in the sky.”
Kim led Webb by one shot overnight and they both posted 3-under rounds of 68 in perfect conditions, with no clouds or wind to disrupt them.
She finished on 11-under 273 overall, having shot the lowest ever round in a major with a 61 on Thursday.
Webb, meanwhile, was looking to win her eighth career major and first since Kraft Nabisco in 2006.
“I believe in fate a little bit, and I wasn’t meant to win,” Webb said. “I hit a lot of good putts this week. Probably the one on the last was the poorest I hit all week.”
Only Morgan Pressel and Lexi Thompson — both from the U.S. — have won majors at a younger age than Kim, who is studying physical education in Seoul.
She seemed to take it all in her stride.
When Webb’s putt rolled wide, Kim removed her glasses slowly and then walked up to give Webb a small hug.
Her caddie, Gordon Rowan, said Kim didn’t know she’d won at first.
“I don’t think she was aware of the real situation of the scores,” Rowan said. “I said ‘You’ve won. She said ‘No, no, I haven’t,’ which was quite sweet.”
Kim and Rowan were paired randomly the last time she played Evian, tying for fourth in 2012 — the final year before Evian became the fifth major. It’s a partnership that has flourished since.
“My player at the time hadn’t qualified, so I just offered my services,” Rowan recalled. “She was a young amateur, they were looking for a caddie.”
Webb finished ahead of three other South Koreans. Ha-Na Jang and Mi-Jung Hur were tied for third at 9 under, with Na-Yeon Choi in fifth another shot back. Defending champion Suzann Pettersen of Norway was one behind her.
Choi birdied 12 and 14, but the U.S. Women’s Open champion from 2012 dropped back when she bogeyed the 16th, and Webb was level with Kim with three to play.
The shot of the day belonged to Japan’s Mika Miyazato: a hole in one on the 16th.
Meanwhile, Michelle Wie, who pulled out during the first round because of a recurrence of her right index finger injury, won the inaugural Rolex Annika Major award.
Named after retired Swedish great Annika Sorenstam, it honors the player with the best overall record in the five majors. Wie won the U.S. Women’s Open and finished second at the Kraft Nabisco.
Webb looked certain to clinch her 42nd LPGA title with two to play.
Kim’s approach on the 16th almost rolled into the water, leaving her a difficult uphill par putt from the fringe, which she missed as Webb took the lead with a par from 4 feet.
Webb missed a long birdie chance on the 17th and was way short, before a par from six feet.
But that composure left her on the last, when her second shot went too long.
About 30 feet from the pin, Webb chose to chip and almost made an improbable birdie as the ball rolled just past the hole, but then carried on downhill for about 12 feet.
“I don’t know what hit me actually,” Webb said. “Just probably a rush of adrenaline.”
Kim punched the air after making her birdie.
“I was very nervous,” she said
It didn’t show.
“The shot is definitely very mature,” Webb said. “I left the foot off the pedal a little bit. But she still had to make it.”
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