WASHINGTON: Katherine Kirk birdied the final hole to edge Ashleigh Buhai by one stroke Sunday, claiming a third LPGA tour title at the Thornberry Creek Classic in Wisconsin.
Australia’s Kirk went into the final round with a four-shot lead over South Africa’s Buhai and had the LPGA Tour’s 72-hole scoring record in her sights.
She nabbed six birdies in a final-round 70, and while it didn’t threaten the scoring record of 27-under, her 22-under total of 266 was enough to hold off Buhai.
“To make that putt (on 18) was huge,” Kirk said. “All wins are good. Winning out here is hard, and it’s gotten a lot harder out here since I first did it, that’s for sure.
“There is so much talent out here now and it makes it so much harder to win. I think I’m the 15th-oldest player on Tour,” added the 35-year-old. “So if you’re looking at age it’s more in favour of the younger generation these days ... but hard work pays off.”
Kirk, of Brisbane, notched her first LPGA win since the 2010 Navistar LPGA Classic. She also won the 2008 Canadian Women’s Open.
She also secured a berth in the US Women’s Open that starts on Thursday at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey.
Johannesburg’s Buhai rolled in the last of her five birdies in a bogey-free 67 at the 18th and finished alone in second on 267.
“It was awesome,” she said of playing in the final group for the first time. “I felt I relished on it. From the first hole I started out with a birdie, and I just tried to keep feeding off it.”
South Korea’s Kim Sei-Young fired a final-round 63 for third place on 268, one stroke in front of Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum, who burned up the Thornberry Creek course in Oneida, Wisconsin, with a 10-under 62 that included eight birdies and an eagle.
Pornanong’s finish was her best on the LPGA Tour, thanks to her best-ever score as a professional.
“Tee shots (were) pretty good and also putted very well today,” she said. “Really fantastic. I Just tried to do my game, work on my game plan, and then it worked very good today.” --AFP