‘Daughter of Jeju’ Im Jin-hee wins first ‘multi-season’ title in her hometown

KLPGA Jeju Samdasu Masters
Finished 5-under, one stroke ahead of second place
First two wins of the season and fourth of her career
Runner-up Hwang Yoo-min retains top spot as rookie of the year

BREATHING THE HEAT ‘Mulbuk Ceremony‘ Im Jin-hee checks the direction of her ball after hitting an iron shot during the final round of the Jeju Samdasu Masters on the Korean Ladies Professional Golf (KLPGA) Tour at Blackstone Jeju in Jeju City on June 6. At right, Im Jin-hee, the tournament’s top finisher, is baptized with Jeju Samdasu water in a mulheebuk (a bucket used by Jeju women) to celebrate her victory. The “mulheebuk ceremony” is a tradition at the tournament.

Neither the sweltering 33-degree Celsius weather nor the gusty winds of around 15 meters per second could stop her. Jeju-born and bred Im Jin-hee, 25, recorded her first multi-win season in her hometown after making her professional debut.

Lim shot a 2-over-par 74 with one birdie and three bogeys in the final four rounds of the Jeju Samdasu Masters, the first event of the second half of the Korean Ladies Professional Golf Association (KLPGA) Tour, at Blackstone Jeju (par-72) in Jeju City on Saturday. Despite dropping two strokes on the final day, Lim posted a final total of 5-under-par 283 to win the tournament by one stroke over runner-up Hwang Yoo-min (20). She took home 180 million won.

Lim, who made her KLPGA Tour debut in 2018, won her first title in her fourth year at the BC Card-Hankyung Ladies Cup in June 2021 and her second at the McCall’s Mona Park Open last July. In May of this year, she won the NH Investment & Securities Ladies Championship for the third consecutive year, marking her fourth career victory and her first two wins in a season since her debut. She is only the third player on the KLPGA Tour to win twice this year, joining Park Min-ji and Park Ji-young.

After starting the final round with a two-stroke lead, Im faltered with back-to-back bogeys on the fourth (par-3) and fifth (par-4) holes. Meanwhile, rookie Hwang Yoo-min shaved four strokes off her lead in the first nine holes. Despite a bogey on the 12th (par-4), Hwang still held a one-stroke lead over Lim.

Hwang’s momentum was derailed on the 15th hole (par-4, 369 yards). Her tee shot curved hard left and went out of bounds (OB) into the woods, resulting in a double bogey. Lim, who had been steady on the back nine, capitalized on Hwang’s mistake to regain the lead. She continued to save par until the end of the 18th hole to secure a one-stroke victory.

“I had a lot of relatives cheering me on today, including my big dad and little dad,” Lim said after the match, “and I won the tournament I wanted to win the most. I don’t know if it’s a dream or real life.” Blackstone Jeju, where the tournament was held, is a 20-minute drive from Lim’s home in Jungmun, Jeju. “It’s a short drive, but I never played here when I was younger. It wasn’t until I became a professional that I played here,” he said. “There are a lot of tournaments left in the second half of the year, so I’d like to win one more, and then I’d like to accumulate victories and become a multi-time champion,” said Lim.

Hwang Yoo-min, who tasted victory on her debut at the Daewoo Women’s Open last month, had to settle for a runner-up finish after a bad tee shot on the 15th hole. However, with fellow Rookie of the Year contenders Kim Min-byul and Bang Shin-sil missing the cut in this tournament, she retained the top spot on the Rookie of the Year standings (1,605 points).

Lee So-young, Park Hyun-kyung, and Choi Min-kyung tied for third place at 3-under par 285. Park, 고스톱 who finished the tournament in a tie for 13th place (1-over par 289), retained the top spot on the money list (KRW 645.71 million) and the top spot on the grand prize list (326 points).

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