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Hyo Joo Kim secures wire-to-wire win at The Ascendant

Hyo Joo Kim of South Korea cruised to a wire-to-wire victory at The Ascendant LPGA on Sunday in The Colony, Texas.

Kim, who started the day with a five-stroke lead, posted a final-round 69 to finish the tournament at 13-under 271. Bianca Pagdanganan of the Philippines and Atthaya Thitikul of Thailand each shot 6-under 65s Sunday, but they could not catch Kim, settling for a tie for second at 9 under.

Kim, ranked No. 7 in the world this week, won for the sixth time on the LPGA Tour and the first time since April 2022.

“I do feel like there is a weight off (your) shoulders,” Kim said. “Obviously the season isn’t over yet but I think just with the disappointment that I’ve had … to this point in the season is gone.”

Kim found herself even for the round after 11 holes, with two birdies and two bogeys to show for it. She made an important birdie at the par-4 14th and added to the margin with a final birdie at the par-5 17th.

“A five-shot lead feels like a comforting lead, but I did my best to just keep that edge until the end,” Kim said.

She got a nice boost at the ninth hole, where her birdie putt stopped right on the edge of the cup for several moments before dropping.

“After I hit the putt, it went down exactly the way I wanted and how I wanted, and it stopped just right before the hole,” Kim said. “I was like, ‘How could this be?’ It went in as I was walking, so really happy about that.”

Thitikul birdied five of her final seven holes to charge up the leaderboard. It was her 10th top-10 finish of the season after bursting onto the scene in 2022 with a pair of victories.

“Golfers have ups and downs, and ups (being) really up and down (being) really down,” Thitikul said. “I’m so grateful that it’s happened this year.

“I’m just 20 and it’s just my second year on tour. I can learn a lot from this year. Mentally-wise I think it’s — I learn a lot from this year.”

Pagdanganan also got red-hot late, making six of her seven birdies on the back nine to come in in 6-under 30.

“Short game is pretty much everything in this sport, so I’ve been just putting in more time with chipping, putting, everything around the green,” Pagdanganan said. “I really can say that the last two weeks that’s kind of what saved my game. I wouldn’t say my ball striking was A+. It was good enough, but I still missed a couple greens. My short game has been my saving grace I would say for the last two weeks.”

Sarah Kemp of Australia was fourth at 8 under after carding a 69. Lexi Thompson shot a 70 and finished fifth at 7 under. Thompson will play on the PGA Tour next week after being given an exemption into the Shriners Children’s Open in Las Vegas.

–Field Level Media

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