GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — Sunday turned out to be anything but a run-of-the-mill round of golf for In-Kyung Kim.
The LPGA standout made it seem routine, however.
The South Korean native shot a final round 69 on the par-71 Bay Course at Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club to win the $1.5 million ShopRite LPGA Classic by two shots over two-time defending champion Anna Nordqvist.
The $1.5 million ShopRite LPGA Classic finished Sunday on the Bay Course at Stockton Seaview…
Paula Creamer, who began the final round tied with Kim for the lead, faded and finished tied for seventh.
“It’s definitely tricky and challenging out there,” Kim said. “It’s really nice to win the tournament with everything that I gave.”
Kim, 28, admitted she felt some pre-round jitters. Several people come up to her before she teed off to wish her luck.
“It’s definitely not normal,” she said. “People come up to you and say things. It could be a little bit distracting. Somehow, I felt like (Sunday) was normal and was something that I practiced for.”
Fellow golfer Jenny Shin doused Kim with two beers after Kim sank her final putt on the 18th green.
“I still can’t believe it,” Kim said of the win. “There are a lot of photos after the round that I didn’t know about.”
Kim shot all three rounds in the 60s and finished with a 54-hole total 11-under 202. She earned $225,000 for her fifth career LPGA win.
Kim wasn’t one of the favorites coming into the week. During the offseason, she fell on stairs and bruised her tailbone. The Classic was just her sixth event this year. Her best finish before ShopRite was a tie for 16th at the LOTTE Championship last month.
The injury ended up having a positive impact. Since she had to let her legs and back recover, the 5-foot-3 Kim spent the offseason working on her upper body.
“I think I got stronger after the injury,” she said. “I didn’t really expect to win right away, but I knew my game was better than last year.”
Nordqvist shot a final-round 69, giving her four-straight top-five finishes at the Classic.
“I couldn’t really make the putts when it mattered,” Nordqvist said.
Creamer shot a 3-over 74 and finished five shots back of Kim.
“You can’t shoot over par on Sunday,” Creamer said. “I fought hard. I kept grinding away. I just didn’t execute any really good shots in the middle of my round, which kind of hurt me.”
The Classic final round drew an enthusiastic crowd. Fans filled the 18th hole grandstand as the leaders approached the final hole.
The wind swirled around the Bay Course in the afternoon, making club selection difficult. Players repeatedly backed off shots as they questioned whether they had the right club in their hands.
Much of the crowd favored Creamer, one of the LPGA’s most popular players. She sought her first victory in three years.
“Let’s go, Paula!” and “Take this tournament, Paula!” fans shouted as she walked down the first fairway.
But her final round fell apart with back-to-back bogeys at the 11th and 12th holes.