By Josh Thomson
HARRISON – After another near miss, another Sunday round that was nowhere near good enough at a major, Sei Young Kim had a chance to field a softball. She was asked to heap praise on Inbee Park, her fellow Korean, who had just stormed to a five-shot victory at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship after Kim failed any attempt to mount a challenge.
Someone wondered if the 22-year old admired Park as Park had Se Ri Pak, the Korean trailblazer who set off a revolution in women’s golf.
“I liked and respected both of them and their games and all that, but I will build my own style and make my own recognition in the future,” Kim said.
That still remains to be seen after Sunday. Kim, who squandered a 54-hole lead at the season’s first major, the ANA Inspiration, finished with a final-round 71 at Westchester Country Club to fall five shots behind Park.
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Kim’s putting stroke escaped her down the stretch, especially when she four-putted the ninth for double bogey as Park drained a putt for birdie. The three-shot swing increased Park’s lead to four as the players made the turn and Kim never drew closer than three shots from then on.
“When I had trouble on a few holes on the front nine, the first few holes, I wasn’t sure about putting for a couple of holes,” Kim said. “When I arrived to the ninth hole, I tried to putt and that’s when everything kind of fell apart.”
Kim stood within a shot before her double at No. 9. She responded with a birdie at No. 10 and another at No. 12, but her slim hopes pretty much disappeared when she hooked a drive left on the next hole. She had to punch out and eventually made bogey, committing the type of mistake Park rarely ever did.
Kim acknowledged that Park’s ability to escape trouble was what separated them. After their finishes, Kim moved to No. 2 in the world, second only to Park, who replaced Lydia Ko at No. 1.
“I felt that Inbee was a solid player, and I also realize that she knows how to defend herself when she’s in trouble,” Kim said. “Those things, to be No. 1 in the world, I need to learn that to get close to her.”