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Some six months after a Dustin Johnson-like fall on stairs, South Korean Kim In-kyung produced a near-flawless final round in tough conditions to win the ShopRite LPGA Classic by two strokes over Anna Nordqvist in New Jersey on Sunday.
Kim bruised her tail bone in the fall, an injury that sidelined her for more than two months.
But healthy again, she pulled away with a closing two-under 69 for a comfortable victory at the Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club in Galloway.
She finished at 11-under 202 for her fifth LPGA victory, while Swede Nordqvist also shot 69 to finish nine-under, coming up short in her bid for a third successive victory at the event.
Kim’s fall was reminiscent of Johnson’s spill on a staircase on the eve of this year’s U.S. Masters which left the world number one with a severely bruised back that ruled him out of the major championship.
Kim said her win was earlier than expected after her injury-enforced break.
“I really prepared for this summer and I really didn’t expect it right away but I knew my game was better than last year, so that’s really all I could ask for,” she said in a greenside interview, a broad smile on her face after being drenched in champagne.
“I didn’t break anything, but I fall on the stairs and I bruised my tail bone. That took a long time (but) now I feel much better. I had a lot of help from my physiotherapist.”
She said she had been “pretty nervous” through much of the round due to the testing breeze and also because her threesome was being timed for slow play for several holes.
Kim, 28, is perhaps best known for missing a putt from barely one foot that would have won her a major in 2012 at the tournament now named the ANA Inspiration.
She is the 13th different player and seventh from South Korea to win in 13 LPGA events this year.
Runnerup Nordqvist said a cold putter had prevented her from a better run at Kim.
“I couldn’t really make the putts yesterday and today when it mattered but I’m really proud of myself,” she said. “It feels great to be back in contention.”
American Paula Creamer, who started the final round tied for the lead with Kim, faded with five bogeys in a 74 to tie for seventh, five shots back.