It has taken Sydney’s Grace Kim just six starts to earn her first win on the Epson Tour as she eyes promotion to the LPGA Tour.
Tied for the lead through two rounds, Kim used an eagle from 16 feet at the par-5 16th to clinch a five-stroke victory with a three-round total of 18-under at the IOA Golf Classic in Florida.
Kim went 66-65-64 to relegate fellow Australian Sarah Jane Smith (68) to second spot with Robyn Choi (67) rounding out an excellent tournament for the Aussies in a share of fourth.
With her father Kevin on the bag, Kim dropped a shot at the par-3 second but bounced back quickly with birdies at three, five and six to edge clear.
A prolific winner as an amateur and a two-time winner on the Women’s All Pro Tour prior to turning professional last year, Kim kept the hammer down, allowing herself a brief moment to exhale when she made eagle at the 16th.
She closed in style with a sixth birdie at the par-3 18th to further emphasise her status as a star of the future by claiming victory in the same event won by fellow Aussie Hannah Green in 2017.
“I did not expect a win this early in my career,” conceded Kim.
“To have an Epson (Tour) event as my first professional career win is quite special and to have Dad on the bag is that little bit extra on top.
“This is a good start. I think he’s going to stay on the bag for a little bit,” added Kim following her father’s arrival from Sydney on Monday.
A member of the Golf Australia Rookie Squad, Kim’s previous best finish prior to this week was a tie for 17th at the Copper Rock Championship.
She and coach Khan Pullen had spoken recently with regards to the need to stay patient as she elevates her game into more elite professional company.
It was advice that proved prudent as Kim moved from 75th to seventh in the Race To The Card, the top 10 at season’s end to earn direct promotion to the LPGA Tour in 2023.
It was very nearly cause for a double celebration among the Aussie girls this week after Perth’s Whitney Hillier missed out on a maiden Ladies European Tour title at the Jabra Ladies Open in France.
Out to a three-stroke lead early in the final round, Hillier shot 69 in the final round to finish tied with Tiia Koivisto at the end of 54 holes, Koivisto’s birdie at the first playoff hole denying Hillier the victory.
Brad Kennedy missed the three-man playoff at the Golf Partner Pro-Am Tournament by a single stroke as he settled for a share of fourth while Cameron Smith and Lucas Herbert were the top Aussies at the US PGA Championship, the pair finishing tied for 13th as Justin Thomas bested Will Zalatoris in the playoff.
IOA Golf Classic
Alaqua Country Club, Longwood, Florida
Winner Grace Kim 66-65-64—195 $US30,000
T2 Sarah Jane Smith 66-66-68—200 $16,514
T4 Robyn Choi 68-66-67—201 $9,773
T15 Hira Naveed 66-71-69—206 $2,967
T24 Karis Davidson 70-68-70—208 $2,133
T28 Soo Jin Lee 67-71-71—209 $1,756
T35 Gabriela Ruffels 70-69-71—210 $1,299
T63 Amelia Garvey 71-70-76—217 $672
MC Stephanie Na 73-72—145
MC Julienne Soo 73-75—148
US PGA Championship
Southern Hills Country Club, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Winner Justin Thomas 67-67-74-67—275 $US2.7m
Won in three-hole aggregate playoff
T13 Cameron Smith 68-70-73-69—280 $291,250
T13 Lucas Herbert 68-73-68-71—280 $291,250
T34 Marc Leishman 72-71-73-68—284 $71,250
T48 Cam Davis 72-72-72-70—286 $35,000
54 Ryan Fox 70-70-70-77—287 $29,250
T55 Jason Day 71-72-72-73—288 $28,750
MC Min Woo Lee 73-72—145
MC Adam Scott 77-70—147
MC Matt Jones 73-77—150
Korn Ferry Tour
Advent Health Championship
Blue Hills Country Club, Kansas City, Missouri
Winner Trevor Cone 65-67-70-70—272 $US135,000
T38 Nick Voke 70-71-73-71—285 $3,878
MC Rhein Gibson 75-71—146
MC Brett Drewitt 73-77—150
Challenge de Espana
Iberostar Real Club de Golf Novo Sancti Petri, Cadiz, Spain
Winner Jens Dantorp 74-71-67-66—278 €40,000
T53 Josh Geary 71-76-72-76—295 €925
T53 Dimitrios Papadatos 75-76-74-70—295 €925
T58 Daniel Hillier 73-77-73-74—297 €812.50
MC Jarryd Felton 77-75—152
MC Blake Windred 78-74—152
MC Deyen Lawson 73-80—153
Ladies European Tour
Jabra Ladies Open
Evian Resort Golf Club, Évian-les-Bains, France
Winner Tiia Koivisto 72-69-66—207 €37,500
Won on first hole of sudden-death playoff
2 Whitney Hillier 67-71-69—207 €22,500
MC Amy Walsh 84-71—155
Japan Golf Tour
Golf Partner Pro-Am Tournament
Toride Kokusai Golf Club, Tsukubamirai, Japan
Winner Shugo Imahira 65-67-61-65—258 ¥10m
Won on second hole of sudden-death playoff
T4 Brad Kennedy 61-63-69-66—259 ¥2.2m
T16 Anthony Quayle 66-68-67-64—265 ¥737,500
T22 Brendan Jones 70-63-69-65—267 ¥447,500
T37 Andrew Evans 68-66-68-68—270 ¥245,000
MC David Bransdon 68-71—139
MC Adam Bland 68-71—139
MC Dylan Perry 69-70—139
MC Matthew Griffin 69-70—139
MC Michael Hendry 72-70—142