|Bae Seon-woo celebrates after winning the KLPGA Tour Hite Jinro Championship at the Blue Heron Golf Club in Yeoju, Gyeonggi Province, Sunday. Yonhap|
By Kim Jeong-kyoo
Bae Seon-woo beat Lee So-young and In Ju-yeon to win the typhoon-shortened Hite Jinro Championship. The 24-year-old Bae achieved an impressive come-from-behind win Sunday at the 6,736-yard Blue Heron Golf Club in Yeoju, Gyeonggi Province.
Bae hit a four-under par 68 with five birdies against a lone bogey.
The tournament once turned into a three-way contest. But the overnight leader In self-destructed. Indeed, no one could foresee the end of the battle until the final group reached the 16th tee.
Entering the penultimate round, three-time winner Lee took the lead over In just by a single stroke. Also, Lee was four shots clear of Bae and Park Ju-young.
Many were concerned whether Lee might capture her fourth title this season or long hitter In could secure her second career victory. Undoubtedly, no one could predict if the third contestant lurking behind might supplant the two to notch the title.
Bae opened the day with a birdie, picking up her second birdie on the sixth to trail the sole leader Lee by three shots. When she collected another birdie on the 10th, she found In within striking distance. She was a shot behind In, who was the leader at that stage.
The par-3 11th hole was a pivotal one as Bae barely missed making a hole in one, but calmly birdying the hole. The birdie gave her the lead by a stroke. In shot a bogey, which compelled her to concede her the lead.
Despite a three-putt bogey on the 15th, Bae stayed a stroke ahead of her nearest challenger Choi Ye-rim who was already in the clubhouse.
Bae bounced back immediately on the 16th with a birdie to get back her two-shot lead.
Bae headed for the par-5 final hole with a two-shot advantage. Reaching the green in three, she made a two-putt for an easy par for a 68. After she tapped the ball into the hole, Bae raised her hands high with a big smile on her face.
She came from four shots behind to secure her second victory this season and second career major. Bae received 160 million won in prize money.
The overnight leader Lee looked as if she could rout her rivals when she birdied the first two holes. Heading for the third hole, Lee found she was three shots ahead of her nearest rival, In. When she first started the day, Lee looked as if she would beat her opponents with ease.
However, she ultimately came up empty in her bid to claim a fourth KLPGA Tour victory of the year. She began to falter when she bogeyed the par-3 fifth hole. Afterwards, she bogeyed three more times and then double-bogeyed to cough up her four-shot lead, which gave the winner's trophy to Bae. Lee tied for sixth place with two others.
For In Ju-yeon, her final-group pairing ended in a missed opportunity although she was once the sole leader when she birdied the 8th.
Making the turn, In was a shot ahead of the overnight leader Lee and two shots clear of Bae and Choi Ye-rim.
But her crisis loomed ahead. Suddenly her swing deserted her. She looked like she became nervous. In started faltering, hitting the ball all over the place. After a three-putt bogey on the 11th, she pulled her tee shot into the hazard on the 12th. She had a double-bogey thrust on her, dropping straight down headlong into a three-way tie for fourth place.
The tee shot blunder deprived her of every chance to secure her second career title. The double-bogey effectively halted her title bid. Worse, she incurred another bogey on the 15th, plummeting her into hopelessness.
In shot a two-over 74, mixing three birdies with three bogeys, plus a double-bogey. Fortunately, In birdied the last hole to tie for third place.
Choi Ye-rim, 19, had a great final round of a bogey-free 7-under 65 for an overall score of a two-under 214. She missed several chances for birdie, finishing alone in second place, two shots behind Bae.
Park Ji-young, 22, and Kim Ji-hyun, 27, both hit a two-under par 70 for a three-way tie for third place.