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Kim completes wire-to-wire win at The Ascendant LPGA

Hyo Joo Kim Hyo Joo Kim - The Canadian Press

THE COLONY, Texas (AP) — Hyo Joo Kim of South Korea started with a five-shot lead and didn't give anyone much of a chance Sunday, closing with a 2-under 69 to win The Ascendant LPGA by four shots.

It was the second straight week for a wire-to-wire winner on the LPGA Tour, following Hae Ran Ryu in the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.

Bianca Pagdanganan, the big hitter from the Philippines, closed with a 65 to tie for second with Atthaya Thitikul of Thailand, who also shot a 65.

“A five-shot lead feels like a comforting lead, but I did my best to just keep that edge until the end,” Kim said.

Lexi Thompson could only manage a 70 in her final found on the LPGA Tour before she tests her game on the PGA Tour in Las Vegas next week. She finished six shots behind in fifth place and never seriously challenged Kim.

Even so, Thompson said she was happy with the progress. This was her second straight top 10 after going the entire season without such a finish. Her last LPGA victory was more than four years ago, though she did win in a Saudi-funded event last year on the Ladies European Tour.

“Nothing but positives to take from it,” Thompson said.

Asked what aspects of her game needed to work for her in the Shriners Children's Open, Thompson said, “Everything, really.”

Thompson and Sarah Kemp of Australia were the closest to Kim going into the final round. Kemp closed with a 69 and finished fourth.

Canadian Maddie Szeryk tied for 54th at 6 over, 19 shots behind the winner.

This was the Kim show at Old American Golf Club. She exchanged birdies and bogeys on the front nine, and then picked up two birdies on the back to keep everyone at a distance.

She finished at 13-under 271 and earned $270,000, moving her past $2 million for the year for the first time in her career. Kim first earned an LPGA Tour card when she won the Evian Championship for her only major. This was her sixth career LPGA victory, to go along with 14 titles on the Korean LPGA. She now has won three straight seasons on the LPGA.

“My results this year wasn’t bad, but there was some disappointment because I didn’t have a win,” Kim said. “I had a lot of the time to think just for myself, and before this year passes I really want to win.

"This week I was able to accomplish that and it was just a really happy week for me.”

Pagdanganan made a late charge with a 30 on the back nine to at least have hope. Thitikul birdied five of her last seven holes. But Kim didn't buckle over the back nine.

“Just being in contention this week, it really means a lot to me,” Thitikul said. “Obviously it boosts the confidence more and more.”

Katherine Muzi closed with a 68 in her LPGA Tour debut as a Monday qualifier. She tied for seventh, eight shots behind. She won just over $45,000.

“Now I’ll have some extra spending money on the side, and then I can use it to build my dream and then hopefully I can play some more tournaments, get better, and then play in some more LPGA tournaments,” Muzi said.


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