Korea’s I K Kim displayed nerves of steel to hold off the challenge of fast-finishing Englishwoman, Jodi Ewart Shadoff, and win the first major title of her career at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at a wet and windy Kingsbarns Golf Links.
29-year-old Kim started the final round with a six-shot lead over the field but, when Ewart Shadoff became the third player of the week to card a course record 64, the Korean needed to produce nine consecutive pars over her closing nine holes to post a one under par 71 and finish two shots clear of the Englishwoman on 18 under par 270.
Kim’s shot of the day came at the 17th where she hit a 5-wood 197-yards into the wind and over a ditch to set up a 15-foot birdie putt. She did not hole it but her regulation par gave her the luxury of a two-shot lead heading up the last and she went on to play it in text book fashion to bury the inner demons she has harboured since missing a one-foot putt on the 72nd hole of the 2012 Kraft Nabisco (now ANA Inspiration) before going on to lose the subsequent play-off to Sun Young Yoo.
“I feel uplifted and say that because I didn’t expect to win this week,” she said. “I didn’t really have any expectations. I had one of my best warm-ups of the week, so that gave me quiet confidence. But the wind was blowing differently, and I wasn’t hitting the ball as close. I didn’t have many makeable putts, but I think as well as I could with what I had today, I think.”
Ewart Shadoff’s round of the day started with a birdie on the second and she went on to fire five more in succession from the sixth before claiming her share of the course record with two further birdies at the 13th and 17th.
“I just tried to stay in the moment and hit as many good shots as I could,” she said.
“Honestly, I didn’t think I had a shot. IK was so far ahead, and she’s been playing so good recently, so I was just trying to finish as high up as I could.
“It’s been a big boost to me,” she added. “I didn’t have much confidence coming into this week, having missed the cut last week (at the Scottish Open) but I played great. The key was my putting, my putter was on fire.”
Ewart Shadoff’s 16-under par total of 272 saw her finish three shots ahead of compatriot Georgia Hall, Germany’s Caroline Masson and first round leader Michelle Wie from America. Korea’s Jenny Shin posted a 67 to finish alone in sixth place on 276 while China’s Shanshan Feng returned the same score to finish tied seventh on eleven under par 277 alongside Korea’s Hyo Joo Kim, America’s Stacy Lewis and Swede’s Anna Nordqvist.
English international Sophie Lamb faced a Rules query and then an anxious three hour wait before being confirmed as the winner of the Smyth Salver awarded to the leading amateur who plays all four rounds of the Championship.
The 19-year-old from Clitheroe birdied the last to post a 69 and finish on six under par 282 but it was then discovered that she and playing partner Jane Park had signed for their scores on each other’s cards. A Rules official was called to the Recorders Area and she adjudged that the situation was covered by Decision 6-6d/4 and that no penalty should be applied.
Lamb then had to wait for most of the afternoon until her nearest challenger, Irish World No. 1 Leona Maguire, returned a 75 for it to be confirmed that she had won the amateur prize by three shots. Swedish amateur international My Leander also played all four rounds and closed with a 79 to finish on nine over par 297.
“It has been a fantastic week,” Lamb said. “I have played very well and it was nice to finish with a birdie.
“As an amateur, you play a lot of links golf, and I think that helped me this week,” she added. “It’s all been a bit crazy but I’m delighted to know I can compete at this sort of level. It gives me a lot of confidence.”