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Mi Oh My! Kim takes it



Published: Mon, July 22, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



By PETE MOLLICA

VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF

VIENNA -- She is just 5-foot-1 and weighs a little more than 100 pounds.

Still, Mi Hyun Kim looked awful big Sunday as she held the William G. Lyden Memorial Trophy as the 2002 champion of the Giant Eagle LPGA Classic.

Kim, the 25-year-old, fourth-year pro from Seoul, South Korea, came from behind to defeat LPGA veteran Kelly Robbins as the two had a real shootout over the entire 18 holes on Squaw Creek Country Club.

Kim, who made a sensational birdie on the 17th hole to take the lead for keeps, shot a 3-under-par 69 and finished the tournament at 202 for 54 holes, 14-under-par.

Her score was the best winning tally of the five LPGA events held at the Squaw Creek layout.

Robbins, who held a one-shot lead going into the final round, led Kim by as many as two shots after nine holes. But she finished with a 1-under-par 71 and a 203 total.

Kim, who was playing with a new set of clubs that she first used last Tuesday, hit a 179-yard 7-wood within four feet of the pin on the 17th hole and made the putt.

"I had about the same shot both days previous in the tournament, so I was a little bit more confident," Kim said. "I know how I can hit the ball. I had an uphill lie, so I aimed a little right."

Robbins, who consistently out-drove Kim by 25 to 30 yards, lost a big opportunity on the par-4, 11th hole.

She hit her drive to within 88 yards of the pin, but pulled her second shot into a green-side bunker, chipped out short and missed her par putt.

Fell into tie

The bogey threw her into a tie with Kim, who made birdie on the hole, at 13-under par, and set up the winning birdie on 17.

"I found that I was in-between clubs several times out there today," Robbins said. "I gripped down on the wedge and a lot of times that happens when you try to do that. It happened to me on 18 also."

Two-time defending champion Dorothy Delasin, who had come from behind in both of her victories, almost pulled off a third one.

She was six shots behind Robbins going into the final round, and shot a 5-under-par 67 to finish in a tie for third place at 11-under-par 205. She finished deadlocked with Grace Parks, who also shot 67 in the final round.

Two-time Giant Eagle champion Tammie Green, who was second last year, also made a gallant effort.

After an opening round of 4-over-par 76, Green put together back-to-back rounds of 7-under-par 65 to finish in a three-way tie at 10-under-par, 206.

Kim said that she loves to play golf in Ohio, especially because of the grass here.

"I just love Ohio grass," she said. "The ball seems to go further and the ground is so much firmer, and you can really go down after the ball."

Two other former champions of this tournament also had good finishes on Sunday.

Beth Daniel, the 1990 champion, shot a 7-under-par 209 total and was tied for 15th place, while the 1999 champion, Jackie Gallagher-Smith, shot a 6-under 210 total to tie for 17th place.

Stayed close

There were never more than two shots separating Kim and Robbins. Robbins started one shot ahead, but Kim birdied the third hole to pull even.

Robbins birdied the par-5 fifth hole to regain the lead, and it stayed that way until Robbins birdied the ninth hole to take a two-stroke lead.

That lead lasted just two holes as Robbins bogeyed the 11th and Kim birdied it, to create a tie that lasted until the 17th hole.

Robbins, needing a birdie on the 18th hole to force a tie, hit her tee shot 30 yards past Kim.

Kim hit a 5-wood from 185 yards to about 20 feet from the pin.

Robbins pulled her second shot left again and it went into the gallery in front of the sky box left of the green.

Robbins made a sensational chip shot that almost went into the hole just inches away. Kim then putted more than two feet past the hole, but made the comeback putt to preserve the victory.

"I didn't know that I was that strong, I was just trying to get it close," Kim said.

mollica@vindy.com




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