Eun-Hee Ji aces 14th hole in Kia Classic victory
CARLSBAD, Calif. (AP) — Eun-Hee Ji had a hole-in-one to dramatically finish off Cristie Kerr and the other challengers Sunday in the Kia Classic.
Her lead cut from four strokes to one, Ji aced the 152-yard 14th with a 7-iron, the ball bouncing and rolling into the hole, to push her advantage to three shots.
“It was little downwind and I hit the same club as yesterday,” Ji said. “My ball end up right there where the hole is. So, I just choose 7-iron and I hit it really good. Soon as I saw the ball fly, ‘That’s going to be good.’”
Ji finished with a 5-under 67 at Aviara for a two-stroke victory over Kerr and Lizette Salas in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills.
“I hit it pretty well today,” Ki said. “I am driving the ball really nice. I holed nice putts.”
Ji finished at 16-under 272. The 31-year-old South Korean player earned $270,000 and two Kia cars, a Sorento for the hole-in-one and a Stinger for the victory. She has four LPGA Tour victories, including the 2009 U.S. Women’s Open.
“This is my eighth hole in one, but I never have a car for hole-in-one,” Ji said.
The 40-year-old Kerr closed with a 68. She shot a 64 on Friday to take a five-stroke lead into the weekend, then had a 75 on Saturday to drop a stroke behind Ji, Salas and In-Kyung Kim.
“I did my best,” Kerr said. “I had a tough day yesterday. It would’ve taken a super low round today to catch Eun Hee. I’m happy with my first good tournament of the year.”
Salas finished with a 69 playing alongside Ji in the final pairing.
“I’m really pleased,” Salas said. “Things just went Eun Hee’s way today. I kept fighting and I woke up a little late, started making birdies on the back nine.”
Ji followed the ace with three-putt bogey on the par-4 15th and 18th. She had five birdies in a seven-hole stretch that ended on No. 10 to open a four-stroke lead. Ji hit all 18 greens in regulation and all but one fairway — the drivable par-4 16th.
Jane Park (67), Kris Tamulis (68) and Kim (70) tied for fourth at 13 under, and Anna Nordqvist (69), Jeong Eun Lee (69) and Wei-Ling Hsu (70) were another stroke back.
Inbee Park, the Founders Cup winner last week in Phoenix, shot a 69 to tie for 18th at 9 under. Singapore winner Michelle Wie (69) was 8 under, and top-ranked Shanshan Feng (72) was 7 under. Lexi Thompson (72) tied for 58th at 2 under.