BIRTHDAY GIRL’S VICTORY

24 Apr 2024

South Korea’s Kim Jae-hee celebrated her 23rd birthday by winning the Hana Financial Group Singapore Women’s Open.

Korea’s Kim Jae-hee celebrated her 23rd birthday with a victory.

Kim Jae-hee could not have asked for a better birthday present when she carded six birdies in her final round for a spectacular 17-under 271 total score, winning the Hana Financial Group Singapore Women’s Open by one shot. The Korean closed with a flawless six-under-par 66 at Tanah Merah Country Club’s Tampines Course to secure a one- shot win over compatriot Bang Shin-sil, whom she had staarted the day with in joint-second place.

Bang Shin-sil’s final-round 67 was one shot short, and had to settle for second place.

Oh Soo-min, the leader going into the final day, suffered heartbreak after squandering a three-shot lead and settled for outright third place with a 71, finishing with a 273 total. This dashed the hopes of 15-year-old Oh, who had aimed to become the first amateur to win on the KLPGA Tour since Choi Hye- jin in 2017, as well as the fourth youngest winner of all time in the prestigious circuit.

Fifteen-year-old Oh Soo-min turned in a great performance to finish in third place.

“This is my first victory, and I feel it’s a little bit belated because from much early on I wanted to win a tournament,” said Kim, who pocketed a cool S$198,000 winner’s cheque for her feat. “But I’m very happy to begin this season with this victory under my belt. I feel very comfortable, relaxed and at the same time I feel very proud.

“This is actually the first time I played on my birthday. So, when I heard about the tournament dates, I just thought, oh, I’ll be playing on my birthday!

The tough Tampines Course at Tanah Merah Country Club attracted a good number of fans to the tournament.

“But to win this tournament I think makes it much more special and I understand I’m the third player to win during a tournament. I will remember this day for a long time to come.”

With a three-shot deficit to overcome, Kim rose to the occasion, recording a hat-trick of birdies from the fourth hole and adding another on the ninth to tie for the lead with Oh at 15-under at the midway point. Despite bogeying two of her opening three holes, Oh staged an incredible fightback, responding with three birdies to stay at the top.

A solid final-round 66 helped Kim Jae- hee to a one-shot win.

Kim’s consecutive birdies on the 13th and 14th holes helped her pull two shots clear of the chasing pack and proved to be the decisive moment of the day. Although both Bang and Oh attempted to apply pressure in the closing stretch, Kim played steadily and did not drop any shots on her way to sealing the deal.

Kim acknowledged that several near misses in the past had equipped her with the experience needed to secure the breakthrough she had been longing for. “Definitely those second places have actually helped me. I think when you have a lot of experience playing in the leaders’ group, you feel less nervous,” said Kim, who had six runner-up finishes in her career before today’s victory.

Teenager Chen Xing Tong was the only Singaporean to make the cut, and ended with a +1 289-total for T-54th place.

Promising teenager Chen Xing Tong was the only Singaporean to make the cut. The 16-year-old played credibly, finishing the week with rounds of 74-66-77-72 for a +1 total of 289 to end in tied- 54th position. Other Singaporeans who played and missed the cut were Koh Sock Hwee (72-74), Aloysa Atienza (74-73), Patricia Waland Sinolung (75-76), Amanda Tan (79-73), Jaymie Ng (76-78), Jillian Kuk (79-77), and Elaine Widjaja (77-83).

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