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Birdie Kim lived up to her name in winning the 60th U.S. Women's Open at the 6,749-yard, par-71 Cherry Hills Country Club in Cherry Hills Village, Colo.
In an epic moment, the 23-year-old Kim, playing in her first Women's Open, holed out from a bunker on the 72nd hole to erase a deadlock at the top of the leaderboard.
Kim shot 1-over 72 Sunday, 3-over-par 287 for the championship, and in the process, deflated the hopes of 17-year-old amateur Morgan Pressel, who had been on the 18th fairway tied with Kim when the ball disappeared in the hole to raucous applause. Needing to match the birdie on a hole that surrendered just four all championship, Pressel's chip for the equalizer ran 15 feet by the flagstick. She took bogey and tied another amateur, Brittany Lang, for run-ner-up honors at 5-over 289.
"I still can't believe it. I'm very happy," said the Korean-born Kim, who changed her first name from Ju-Yun to Birdie last year because she felt there were too many Kims on the LPGA Tour.
Kim added that it never even dawned on her that she might win, saying that she set her sights on placing in the top 10.
"I never think about win," said Kim in broken English. "I just try to do my best."
Kim began the day trailing third-round leaders Pressel, Karen Stupples and 15-year-old Michelle Wie by a stroke. As Stupples (7-over 78) and Wie (11-over 82) dropped off the board early, Pressel and Kim hung tough. Kim, who struck nine fairways and just eight greens, scrambled when she needed to.
Kim grabbed a share of the lead after a birdie on No. 5 and took sole possession two holes later with another birdie. Kim pushed her 5-footer for par 2 feet past the hole on No. 10. Moments later, Pressel deftly knocked in an 8-footer from the back fringe to save par and retain a share of the lead.
Kim opened a two-stroke lead after 13 holes when Pressel couldn't get up and down from a left greenside bunker. It didn't last long. Kim's drive on the 14th went far right, her ball settling near a chainlink fence. Her caddie advised to take a drop after it was ruled she wasn't entitled to relief. Kim instead had a masterful chip-out to the left part of the fairway, leading to a two-putt for bogey and one-stroke advantage.
A bogey on the 16th when Kim two-putted from 35 feet created another tie with Pressel, who steered in a 12-footer from the fringe on 15 for another par save.
It set the stage for Kim, who was in the group ahead of Pressel. Kim blocked her 7-wood approach shot and the ball bounded into the right front bunker some 45 feet from the hole. The bunker restricted her sight-line to the flagstick. She bounced up and down to get a view twice then gripped her two-week old sand wedge.
Kim released through her swing. The ball rose above a mound, dropping softly on her target area 12 feet away. It started rolling. The ball spun toward the hole and disappeared. Kim raised her arms in shock, peering out from the bunker.
Starts - 4
Best Finish - Winner 2005
Rds - 12
Cuts Made - 2
Top 3 - 1
Top 5 - 1
Top 10 - 1
Top 25 - 2
Avg. - 73.83
Scores In 60s - 1
Rds Under Par - 2
Earnings - $606,219.00