Posted: March 23, 2015 6:55 pm
PHOENIX (AP) — Hyo Joo Kim overcame her fear of bees — and beat Stacy Lewis, too.
Forced to hit under a tree with a beehive above her head, the 19-year-old South Korean player birdied five of the next eight holes to outlast Lewis on Sunday in the JTBC Founders Cup.
“I was just scared of the bees and I didn’t want to be stung,” Kim said through a translator. “So, I kept asking if I can get relief and I kept asking and they said, ‘No, you can’t.’ So, I just swallowed my fears and tried to play the shot as best I could.”
Kim hit back to the fairway, wedged to 10 feet and two-putted for a bogey to drop into a tie for first with Ilhee Lee with eight holes left at Desert Ridge.
The long-hitting Kim birdied the next three holes — making putts of 5, 50 and 3 feet — and finished with a 5-under 67 to beat Lewis by three strokes for her second LPGA Tour title in 13 career starts.
“I think the situation on hole 10 helped,” Kim said. “After I went through there and I got a bogey, I just realized there’s no time to feel pressure or feel afraid. I just had to go out there and play.”
The third-ranked Lewis shot a 68. She matched Kim’s birdies on Nos. 12, 13 and 15 and pulled within a stroke with a birdie on the par-4 16th.
“The way I played on the front, to think I could still be within a shot coming up those last few holes was pretty amazing,” Lewis said. “I’m proud of the way I hung in there. I was in three divots today in the fairway, so that didn’t really help things.”
Kim made a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-4 18th to finish at 21-under 267. Lewis three-putted for bogey, missing her comebacker from 4 1/2 feet after the outcome was decided.
“In the morning I wasn’t concentrating on winning because I was playing with Stacy Lewis and as a rookie, I just felt that by playing with her, I would learn a lot from her,” Kim said. “I was just trying to make a good impression as a rookie.”
“She’s just really solid,” Lewis said. “Kind of had to battle back from some adversity there on 10. … Even when I did make some putts, she made the putts to follow and she put a lot of pressure on.”