Paradise Island: South Korean rookie Kim Sei-Young won a playoff Sunday to capture the Bahamas LPGA Classic while teen Lydia Ko kept the world`s top ranking, foiling a number-one bid by Park In-Bee.
Kim sank a five-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to reach the playoff, then followed with a six-foot birdie putt on the same 18th green on the first extra hole to defeat Thai teen Ariya Jutanugarn and compatriot Yoo Sun-Young and win the crown in only her second US tour appearance.
"I feel really great," Kim said. "I was really nervous. I just focused on my game. I can`t find the words. Just crying."
Kim, 22 and a three-time winner on the Korean Tour, fired a five-under par 68 in the final round to join Jutanugarn and Yoo on 14-under 278 and force a playoff on the par-5 18th hole.
Yoo, who won a major title at the 2012 Kraft Nabisco Championship, found a greenside bunker with her playoff approach while 19-year-old Jutanugarn put her approach in the left rough. Kim then blasted her second shot to the back edge of the green.
Jutanugarn and Yoo chipped onto the green to set up birdie putts while Kim left a 30-foot eagle bid six feet short. Yoo and Jutanugarn settled for pars and Kim followed by sinking her pressure-packed putt for the victory, raising her right arm in celebration.
Kim opened her round with a birdie and had three in her first five holes. She answered a bogey at the eighth by starting the back nine with a birdie and a birdie at 14 set the stage for the one at 18 that put her in the playoff.
American Brittany Lincicome was fourth on 279 with South Korea`s Park and American Danielle Kang on 280 and New Zealand`s Ko joined by Spain`s Azahara Munoz and Americans Gerina Piller and Lexi Thompson on 281.
That was good enough for Ko to keep the top ranking she took last week, the 17-year-old Kiwi becoming the youngest golf number one in history by overtaking Park.
For a while, it appeared Park would regain the top spot. Park birdied the second and fourth holes and was in contention down the final holes.
But a three-putt bogey at the par-3 12th set her back and at 16, Park`s approach found a difficult lie near a water hazard and she took another bogey. A closing birdie put her one stroke ahead of Ko at the finish, but not high enough to dethrone the teen.
Ko fired a five-under 68 in Sunday`s final round, a charge that featured six birdies against a lone bogey.
"I wasn`t really thinking about it all week," Ko said of the ranking. "All I could do was try to play my best."
Ko ignored the estimates of where Park might have to finish to overtake her.
"I saw the projections on how it would change but I just kept trying to make my putts and make some birdies," Ko said.