NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. — Sei Young Kim shot a sensational seven-under 63 on Sunday to earn her first major title at the Women’s P.G.A. Championship.
Kim, a 27-year-old South Korean, finished at 14-under 266 at Aronimink Golf Course. She entered the tournament with 10 L.P.G.A. Tour wins, the most among active players without a major championship.
Her 63 was the best round of the tournament. She finished five shots ahead of the runner-up, Inbee Park, who shot 65 on Sunday.
“Sei Young was just really untouchable,” Park said.
Kim, a 2016 Olympian, was runner-up at the 2015 Women’s P.G.A. Championship and tied for second at the Evian Championship in 2018. She held the 54-hole lead at a major once, at the 2015 ANA Inspiration, where she finished in a tie for fourth.
She sealed the championship on Sunday with a round to remember. Her fifth birdie of the day, at the par-3 14th, gave her a four-shot lead over Park and put her at 12 under for the championship.
“I’m actually really hiding my tears at the moment,” Kim said, standing next to the trophy after the final round.
She earned $645,000 for the victory. Kim has at least one win in every L.P.G.A. Tour season since 2015.
“It was just so hard to believe that she never won a major before because it felt like she won a few,” Park said.
Nasa Hataoka and Carlota Ciganda tied for third at seven under. Anna Nordqvist (four under) and Brooke Henderson (three under) both played in Kim’s group and finished fifth and sixth.
Kim is the latest addition to a growing list of first-time major winners in recent years, a sign of growing parity. Her victory means nine of the last 10 major champions had never won one before. She joins Sophia Popov (Women’s British Open) and Mirim Lee (ANA Inspiration) as this year’s major champions.
Kim dazzled at another event without the roar of the galleries — though the Toronto Raptors star Kyle Lowry walked the course — and held off a hard-charging Park. Park had three birdies on the front nine as she tried to match Mickey Wright with a record fourth win at the Women’s P.G.A. Championship.
“I thought 65 will definitely do it,” Park said. “I was thinking maybe like five to six under is a good number to kind of post and just see what happens. But obviously Sei Young was just much better than anyone else out there today.”
As she approached 18, the trophy sitting out near the hole for her to see, pretty much everyone at Aronimink lined the ropes. She got a big ovation after her tap-in sealed the win.
With Paul Fusco on the bag, Kim matched a tournament record with a 29 on the front nine on Friday and shot a 32 for the front nine on Sunday. Fusco kept it loose, even walking over to compliment a reporter for an article (“really cool”) before Kim teed off on No. 8.
Kim hit the putt of her life in November at Tiburón Golf Club, a 25-foot birdie on the final hole of the CME Group Tour Championship to win $1.5 million, the richest prize in the history of women’s golf.
The money is far less at Aronimink — but the prestige means so much more.
“I won’t lie, I did feel the pressure starting last night,” Kim said. “I actually arrived about 30 minutes later than I normally do at the golf course. I really tried to stay composed during the tournament, during the round, and I’m happy that I got it done.”
The tournament was delayed three months because of the coronavirus pandemic, landing its final round smack on a packed sports Sunday. The PGA of America had to get creative with the tee times with NBC having other programming commitments on the weekend, and the leaders — including Kim — teed off at 8:49 a.m.
Founded in 1896, Aronimink has hosted a number of significant golf events in its storied history, including the 1962 P.G.A. Championship won by Gary Player. Aronimink’s golf course was designed by Donald Ross in 1926 and is off the major schedule until the PGA Championship in 2026.