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I.K. Kim Wins

2017 ShopRite LPGA Classic 

By Sean Fawcett and Will Prata

Another year and another thrilling ShopRite LPGA Classic, presented by Acer.  Shooting  66-67 in the first two rounds, In-Kyung Kim, rallied past two-time defending ShopRite Classic champion, Anna Nordqvist, on the final Sunday for a two stroke victory. It was Kim’s fifth LPGA TOUR title. Her last victory came at the Reignwood LPGA Classic in China last fall.

As always, the Bay Course at the Stockton Hotel & Golf Club provided a fair test for the players. In speaking with several of the caddies, they agreed that the course setup was challenging, yet fair.  The wind picked up significantly off of Reeds Bay throughout the afternoon on both Saturday and Sunday making the 103-year old course play as it was truly designed. One caddie mentioned that the difficulty of some of the pin placements due to danger behind many of the greens. This was causing players to lay up well short and having putts of significant distance. The par 3, 11th was one hole in particular pointed out as having the trouble. The small, but tricky greens were very challenging to many players, especially ones who had not played in the tournament before.

The 28-year old South Korean native, who is known on Tour as I.K. Kim, was coming off a lower back injury, and went into Sunday’s final round tied with fan favorite Paula Creamer, holding a two stroke lead over Nordqvist. While having her best finish of the year, Creamer faded in the final round, finishing in seventh place.

“I think I got stronger after the injury,” said Kim following her win.  “I didn’t really expect to win right away, but I knew my game was better than last year. I was very nervous.”

Nordqvist(64-71-69), who now has four straight ShopRite Classic top-five finishes, posed a formidable defense of her previous two Classic titles and finished with a fine solo second. Nordqvist played the first two rounds with another fan favorite, former US Women’s Open winner Michelle Wie.

“I couldn’t really make the putts when it mattered,” Nordqvist said following the final round.

Thailand’s Moriya Jutanugarn, whose sister Ariya is currently the #1 ranked women’s player but chose not to play at the ShopRite Classic, tied at -6 with Jaye Marie Green, Mo Martin, Gaby Lopez and Creamer. Jutanugarn played with Kim and Creamer in the final group on Sunday.  Past ShopRite Classic champion, Brittany Lincicome placed in a tie for 12th place,  six shots back(-6) with fellow United States Solheim Cup teammate Gerina Piller.

Before the start of the tournament, the ShopRite Classic announced a contract extension through with Wakefern Food Corporation as the title sponsor through 2023. Next year’s tournament purse will also be increased to $1.75 million. More than $1.5 million was donated from this year’s tournament to more than a dozen local charities.

"This commitment shows ShopRite’s steadfast support of the LPGA and the communities in which they do business,” said Tim Erensen, Executive Director of the tournament and Managing Partner at Eiger Marketing Group, which owns and operates the event. “We look forward to doing our part in enhancing the largest annual sporting event in the region and continuing this incredible charitable legacy.”

 

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