Kim romps to Illinois Women's Open victory

Writing from Romeoville, Illinois

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Here’s how Hannah Kim goes about her business: Head down. Ignorant of scoreboards. Talking about everything but golf with her caddie.

Oh, and making a crazy amount of birdies when her game is on, as it was this week at Mistwood Golf Club.

Kim’s 5-under-par 67 in the final round, following rounds of 68 and 65, brought her a six-stroke victory and a scoring record in the 24th Phil Kosin Illinois Women’s Open. The Santa Ana, Calif., total of 16-under-par 200 obliterated the previous record by seven strokes and allowed her to coast to a six-stroke victory over amateur Tristyn Nowlin – who actually surpassed the old mark, held jointly by Annika Welander and Stephanie Miller, about 30 seconds before Kim sank her winning putt.

For Kim, the outcome was not too shabby for someone in her third start as a professional, following the Ohio Open and California Open. Not that Kim had any idea records were falling like autumn leaves, either.

“I was really trying not to look (at the scoreboards),” Kim said. “I was glad my friend Kylie was along. We talked about random stuff, like what’s my favorite food.”

Over the ball, Kim was all business. She plundered Mistwood for 17 birdies in 54 holes, had only one bogey – on the seventh hole in the first round, making her last 47 holes bogey-free – and nearly aced the par-3 17th in the final round, dropping a 7-iron two feet behind the cup from 133 yards. That set up birdie No. 17.

Kim tied for third two years ago and was second last year. Now she’s won, and collected $5,000 from the $25,000 purse for doing so. She’s 26-under-par in nine rounds on a golf course that isn’t easy, unless you play like she did.

Nowlin’s aggregate of 206 would have won every other Illinois Women’s Open, but the Richmond, Ky., resident – entering her senior year on Illinois’ golf team – could only match Kim’s 67 in the final round and thus settled for low amateur honors. She needed a 60 thanks to Kim, who never wandered into Mistwood’s ever-present fescue. Considering everything, Nowlin was cool with her second runner-up playing of the summer at Mistwood. She was also second in the Women’s Western Amateur.

“This was my last tournament of the summer, so it feels good to end it like this,” Nowlin said. “We were just out there having fun. If somebody’s making putts, I’m not going to affect them or left them affect me.”

Sarah Burnham of Maple Grove, Minn., took third, with a 4-under 68 for 6-under 210. Like Kim, Burnham recently turned pro after earning Big Ten player of the year honors at Michigan State.

LPGA veteran Nicole Jeray of Berwyn was fourth following a 1-under 71 for 4-under 212. She made two early birdies, bogeyed the par-3 seventh, and parred in.

Defending champion Alexandra Farnsworth of Nashville, and Vanderbilt University, tied for sixth, scoring 3-over 75 for 1-under 215 despite tendinitis in her right wrist.

Around Mistwood

Bobbi Stricker was a surprise late withdrawal in the morning. That dropped the final field to 29 players. Had she withdrawn on Tuesday, before the final pairings were made, the four players who tied at 8-over 152 would have been tied for 30th, rather then 31st, and made the final round. Instead, pros Allison Finney and Stacey Miller and amateurs Nikki Marquardt and Reena Sulkar were on the outside looking in. ... The final round scoring average was 74.966.

Tim Cronin

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