REUNION, Fla. - Midway through her round, with her once-sizable lead gone, Mi Hyun Kim began wondering if she would ever win another golf tournament.
She had her answer about three hours later.
The notoriously short hitter struck a monster drive to set up a critical birdie on the par-5 17th, and the South Korean made a routine par on the final hole to seal a two-stroke win Sunday over Lorena Ochoa and Karrie Webb at the Ginn Clubs & Resorts Open.
"Before I started, I was so nervous," Kim said after her first triumph since the 2002 Wendy's Championship for Children. "I haven't had a win in three, four years, maybe. I really, really, really wanted to win this week."
With Webb and Ochoa - this season's two hottest LPGA players - closing in, Kim shot a final round of 1-under 71 and finished at 12-under 276. She hit a drive of between 280 and 290 yards on No. 17 to set up the clinching birdie.
"Even a surprise to me," said Kim, whose tournament driving average was 250 yards.
Ochoa shot a final-round 66 to finish at 10-under, tied with Webb (67) - who, in her last three events, has a win and two second-place ties.
"It was a really solid day," Webb said. "Obviously, a month ago, I wouldn't have thought I would have been saying, 'Well, I left a couple out there.' I'm very happy with the way I played today."
Annika Sorenstam (67) had her best round of the week and finished alone in fourth at 5-under, while Christina Kim (74), Hee-Won Han (66), Michele Redman (67) and Ai Miyazato (76) were tied for fifth at 4-under.
"I hit it beautifully again," Sorenstam said after her no-bogey, five-birdie round - with none of those coming from longer than 4 feet. "I could have been so many under. Just a really good day with the long game. I think I putted well, but nothing went in."
It was Mi Hyun Kim's sixth career win, earning her a $375,000 winner's check - the largest on the LPGA Tour so far this season. She nearly made a long birdie putt to seal it, her pigtails bouncing as she tried to steer it into the cup, but it bounced out and forced her to settle for a par.
Moments later, the 5-foot-1 Kim was given the winner's trophy - an enormous glass bowl, one so big she could barely reach her arms around it.
"It is amazing Kimmy hasn't won for four years," Webb said. "She's one of the most consistent Koreans out here on tour and hits it straight, doesn't make a lot of mistakes.... I'm sure everything came together for her this week."
Kim started seven shots ahead of Ochoa, a margin that vanished in the first seven holes. Kim had bogeys at Nos. 2, 4 and 6, while Ochoa - playing one group ahead - made birdies at Nos. 3, 4, 6 and 7, the last pulling her to 9-under and into a tie for the lead.
The tide finally swung back the South Korean's way on No. 9, with Ochoa making bogey to fall one shot back, and Kim making birdie minutes later to capitalize and push her cushion to two shots.
She kept the lead the rest of the way, although Ochoa and Webb never stopped pursuing.
Ochoa birdied the 17th to get within one - although temporarily, because Kim matched her score shortly after. And Webb made four birdies on the back, yet pars on the final two holes kept her from the lead.
"I'm really happy with the way I'm hitting the ball," said Ochoa, the LPGA's leading money winner this season, her $193,477 check this week pushing her total to $667,528. "I feel good about that. I did make good decisions in a round like this. It just makes you stronger and a better player."
Miyazato, who was three back and alone in second to open the final round, took a triple-bogey on the par-3 second hole. Her tee shot found a greenside bunker, her second sailed over the green and a few fans en route to the woods, and she needed four shots to get down from there.
Eventually, she rallied to 8-under, but another double-bogey at No. 15 doomed whatever chance she had of winning. Miyazato had four holes of 2-over or worse in her last 19; she made double-bogey at the 18th on both Saturday and Sunday.
Meanwhile, Kim simply didn't cave to the pressure - although she never allowed herself to feel any relief until her final drive hit the 18th fairway.
"After that, I feel very relaxed," she said. "Oh, I got a win. Yeah."