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US Women's Open Golf 2020: A Lim Kim Wins 1st Major with 4-Under Final Round

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 14, 2020

A Lim Kim, of South Korea, reacts after making a birdie on the 18th hole during the final round of the U.S. Women's Open golf tournament, Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Eric Gay/Associated Press

A Lim Kim birdied her final three holes to win the 2020 U.S. Women's Open by one stroke over Jin Young Ko and Amy Olson on Monday at the Champions Golf Club in Houston.

Making her first U.S. Women's Open start, Kim posted a four-under 67 with six birdies and two bogeys in the final round. It's the third career victory and first major title for the 25-year-old South Korean, whose previous two wins came on the LPGA of Korea Tour.

Here's a look at the top five finishers on the final leaderboard:

  • 1. A Lim Kim (-3)
  • T-2. Jin Young Ko (-2)
  • T-2. Amy Olson (-2)
  • 4. Hinako Shibuno (-1)
  • 5. Megan Khang (+1)

Kim earned the $1 million top prize and tied the tournament record by overcoming a five-stroke deficit entering the final round to win. The last player to accomplish the feat was World Golf Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam in 1995, according to the Associated Press.

"Still can't really soak in that I'm the champion," Kim said.

LPGA @LPGA

Raise it high, A Lim Kim. You earned it. 🏆 @uswomensopen | #WomenWorthWatching https://t.co/NUqK6NW5uZ

She surged into contention with three birdies over a four-hole stretch starting on No. 5. Her hopes appeared to fade with back-to-back bogeys to open the back nine, but the fantastic finish with birdies on Nos. 16, 17 and 18 put her atop the leaderboard for good.

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U.S. Women's Open (USGA) @uswomensopen

WHAT A FINISH! A Lim Kim with birdies on 16, 17 *and* 18 to take the outright lead at the 75th #USWomensOpen #WomenWorthWatching https://t.co/gqe0UNkVqj

Even though South Korea has become a dominant force in women's golf, Kim's triumph comes as a surprise given her limited career resume and lack of experience in the always difficult U.S. Open.

LPGA Media @LPGAMedia

A Lim Kim wins the @uswomensopen in record fashion in her 1st start. She is the 3rd player this decade to win in her major debut, joining Hyo Koo Kim (2014 @EvianChamp) & Hinako Shibuno (2019 @AIGWomensOpen). Kim is the 30th non-Member to win an @LPGA event & the 2nd of 2020. https://t.co/iS9Q1iceZh

She never appeared fazed by the situation, starting with a three-under 68 in the opening round and finishing with the flurry of birdies in tricky scoring conditions on a chilly day at Champions Golf Club.

Kim waited as the remaining groups played the final holes, and her victory became official when Olson couldn't hole out from the fairway at the 18th.

Zephyr Melton @zephyrmelton

The moment A Lim Kim became a @uswomensopen champion🏆 https://t.co/bU9iQsALQk

Olson, who led after the tournament's first round, was playing with a heavy heart after her father-in-law, Lee Olson, died unexpectedly Saturday night. It marked the third time the American finished in the top 10 of a major, including a second-place result in the 2018 Evian Championship.

"I felt very weak and helpless the last couple days, and probably today on the golf course," Olson said, per the AP. "I really believe the Lord just carried me through. It just makes you realize how much bigger life is than golf. But pleased with my finish overall and my performance."

Shibuno, the 2019 Women's British Open winner, led the event after both the second and third rounds but faded to fourth with a three-over 74 in the final round.

Ko continued to showcase herself as one of the best major players in the world by tying for second. She won two major titles last year, the ANA Inspiration and Evian Championship, and she's regularly been in contention in the sport's biggest events since finishing second in the 2015 Women's British Open.

Kim joins Sei Young Kim (Women's PGA Championship), Mirim Lee (ANA Inspiration) and Sophia Popov (Women's British Open) as this year's major title winners. The Evian Championship was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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