SPORTS

Cool under pressure

By Korea Herald

19-year-old Kim Hyo-joo captures Evian

  • Published : Sept 15, 2014 - 19:56
  • Updated : Sept 15, 2014 - 19:56

EVIAN-LES-BAINS, France (AP) ― Going up against a seven-time major winner more than twice her age, it was teenager Kim Hyo-joo who showed the calm nerves of a veteran.

Kim came from a shot back on the last hole to beat Australian great Karrie Webb by one shot on Sunday and win the Evian Championship, becoming the third youngest major winner at 19 years, 2 months.

The South Korean trailed the 39-year-old Webb heading into the 18th but turned the tables with a birdie from 12 feet out. Webb then missed a chance to force a playoff when a difficult attempt for par from the same distance drifted left of the hole.

“I feel very happy, like a bird,” Kim said through a translator. “I want to fly in the sky.”

Kim led Webb by one shot overnight and they both posted 3-under rounds of 68 in perfect conditions, with no clouds or wind to disrupt them.
Korea’s Kim Hyo-joo poses with the winner’s trophy on Sunday. (AP-Yonhap)

She finished on 11-under 273 overall, having shot the lowest ever round in a major with a 61 on Thursday.

Webb, meanwhile, was looking to win her eighth career major and first since Kraft Nabisco in 2006.

“I believe in fate a little bit, and I wasn’t meant to win,” Webb said. “I hit a lot of good putts this week. Probably the one on the last was the poorest I hit all week.”

Only Morgan Pressel and Lexi Thompson ― both from the U.S. ― have won majors at a younger age than Kim, who is studying physical education in Seoul.

She seemed to take it all in her stride.

When Webb’s putt rolled wide, Kim removed her glasses slowly and then walked up to give Webb a small hug.

Her caddie, Gordon Rowan, said Kim didn’t know she’d won at first.

“I don’t think she was aware of the real situation of the scores,” Rowan said. “I said ‘You’ve won.’ She said ‘No, no, I haven’t,’ which was quite sweet.”

Kim and Rowan were paired randomly the last time she played Evian, tying for fourth in 2012 ― the final year before Evian became the fifth major. It’s a partnership that has flourished since.

“My player at the time hadn’t qualified, so I just offered my services,” Rowan recalled. “She was a young amateur, they were looking for a caddie.”

Webb finished ahead of three other South Koreans. Jang Ha-na and Hur Mi-jung were tied for third at 9 under, with Choi Na-yeon in fifth another shot back. Defending champion Suzann Pettersen of Norway was one behind her.

Choi birdied 12 and 14, but the U.S. Women’s Open champion from 2012 dropped back when she bogeyed the 16th, and Webb was level with Kim with three to play.

The shot of the day belonged to Japan’s Mika Miyazato: a hole in one on the 16th.

Meanwhile, Michelle Wie, who pulled out during the first round because of a recurrence of her right index finger injury, won the inaugural Rolex Annika Major award.

Named after retired Swedish great Annika Sorenstam, it honors the player with the best overall record in the five majors. Wie won the U.S. Women’s Open and finished second at the Kraft Nabisco.

Horschel caps amazing run

ATLANTA (AP) ― Just three weeks ago, Billy Horschel had every reason to start looking ahead to next season.

He had missed the cut in the first FedEx Cup playoff event to fall to No. 82 in the standings. He only had two top 10s all year, scant evidence that he was on the verge of something special. He was weeks away from becoming a father.

What followed was the best golf of his life, and a payoff that was more than he could grasp.

“I’m not sure life can be better than this,” Horschel said.

Horschel capped off his improbable playoff run Sunday at East Lake by pulling away from Rory McIlroy early and holding off Jim Furyk late. He posted his 12th straight round in the 60s ― a 2-under 68 ― to win the Tour Championship by three shots and claim the FedEx Cup and its $10 million bonus.

That’s what these FedEx Cup playoffs are all about ― who can get the hot hand over the last four tournaments.

Horschel took that to a level only Tiger Woods can appreciate. No one had ever won the FedEx Cup starting the playoffs lower than No. 19. Horschel started at No. 69. But he was the runner-up in Boston, a winner in Denver and he cashed in big in Atlanta.

Those three weeks of prize money and the FedEx Cup bonus were worth nearly $13.5 million.

“I remember flying home and talking with my wife and she said, ‘You’re probably just waiting for the season to be over and start a new season.’ I sort of was,” Horschel said. “But at the same time, I knew my game was in the right shape and I just needed to get out of my own way. I needed to allow my golf game to show.”

It was just too late to show Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson.

Horschel’s timing was perfect for the FedEx Cup, not so much for the Ryder Cup. Watson made his three captain’s picks after the Deutsche Bank Championship ― Horschel was the runner-up ― and he had no reason to select a guy whose only PGA Tour win was last year in New Orleans.