Originally created 09/26/00

Kim wins Safeway Championship



PORTLAND, Ore. -- With one round to play in the LPGA Safeway Championship, Mi Hyun Kim was in a five-way tie for the lead -- and that worried her.

Kim said she tossed and turned Saturday night, remembering the times this year when she's been in similar positions, only to lose on the last day.

It almost happened again Sunday, but Kim survived a triple-bogey on the 17th hole and a two-hole sudden-death playoff against Jeong Jang to win the championship, her first this year.

"On the (playoff) hole, I told myself I have to make birdie to win this tournament. So I refocused myself and made it," said Kim, the 1999 Rookie of the Year.

Kim, 23, and Jang, 20, are both from South Korea. Speaking through a translator, they said they were like sisters. Kim helped Jang, a rookie, adjust to playing in the United States.

"Mi taught me everything from the beginning," said Jang, who began the week as the tournament's second alternate. "I admire her very much because of her focus and talent. She's very smart. She's my idol."

Kim gave up the lead twice to Jang on the back nine, but forced the playoff with a birdie on No. 18 to finish with a 72 for a three-round total of 215 on the 6,307-yard, par-72 Columbia Edgewater Country Club course.

Both women parred the first playoff hole. On the second extra hole, Jang missed a 4-foot par putt before Kim sank her 2-foot par putt for the victory.

"On the last hole, I made a little bit of a mistake," Jang said. "But I'm still proud of myself. Since I'm just 20, I have a long way to go and I'm sure I'll win a tournament."

Kim won $120,000, while Jang, who shot a final-round 71, won $74,474.

New Zealand's Marnie McGuire and Sweden's Annika Sorenstam were one shot back, McGuire shooting a final-round 72 and Sorenstam 73. Sweden's Charlotta Sorenstam, who had eight birdies in her first 12 holes and shot a 67 Sunday, and South Korea's Se Ri Pak (69) finished at 217.

The event was the last chance for players to earn points to qualify for the U.S. Solheim Cup.

While the first eight players on the points list were basically safe entering the tournament, the last two positions -- held by Nancy Scranton and Becky Iverson -- were up for grabs. But none of the other six players on the bubble had good enough finishes to push them out as Scranton and Iverson held on to make the team.

With her two captain's choices, Pat Bradley on Sunday night selected Beth Daniel and Brandie Burton to complete the 12-member team which will face the European team in Scotland next month.

The lead in the Safeway's final round seesawed most of the day between Dottie Pepper, Jang, Kim and McGuire, who held an early three-stroke lead.

Kim birdied the par-5 10th to take the lead at 4-under par. But Jang took over the lead when Kim hit her tee shot into a pond on the par-3 13th and wound up with a double bogey.

She regained the lead with a birdie two holes later, while Jang double-bogeyed No. 16.

Kim had a two-stroke lead over Jang starting on No. 17, but her tee shot landed in a pond to the right of the fairway. She took a drop, chunked her third shot 50 yards onto the fairway, then hit a branch with her approach shot to wind up in the rough, ending up with a triple-bogey on the hole and falling back to par.

Jang parred the 18th to finish at 215, forcing Kim to birdie the last hole to send the tournament to a playoff.

Jang said she and Kim have played numerous times in South Korea, but Sunday was their first playoff. Jang beat Kim in the Korean Women's Open three years ago.

"It was tough because she is like my younger sister. I really wanted to win the tournament, but if I won, she might be sad," Kim said. "It was a very tough situation I was in. But it's a competition, so I had to try to win."