Golf: Kim Hyo Joo clinches LPGA Classic after a seven-under 66 in final round

Kim Hyo Joo posing with the trophy after the final round of the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic on Jan 31, 2016.
Kim Hyo Joo posing with the trophy after the final round of the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic on Jan 31, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

MIAMI (AFP) - South Korea's Kim Hyo Joo captured her third career LPGA title on Sunday, firing a seven-under-par 66 to win the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic at Paradise Island.

The 20-year-old rising Asian star charged to victory with two runs of three birdies in a row, finishing 72 holes on 18-under 274 to beat American Stacy Lewis, Sweden's Anna Nordqvist and defending champion Kim Sei Young of South Korea by two strokes.

"My goal coming into today was top 10 but I'm really happy and really pleased to win," Kim said through a translator.

Kim won her first major title at the 2014 Evian Championship, an opening-round 61 helping her edge Australia's Karrie Webb by a stroke in France, and added last year's LPGA Founders Cup trophy.

Kim birdied the par-five fourth, par-three fifth and par-four sixth and eighth holes to leap into the title chase. She followed with birdies at the par-three 12th, and par-four 13th and 14th to seize a three-shot lead.

However, Lewis made her third birdie in a row at the 15th to pull within two and Kim missed an eight-foot par putt at 16 for her lone bogey, leaving Lewis only one stroke back.

Kim answered by sinking an eight-foot birdie putt at the par-three 17th and then parred the par-five 18th for a two-stroke edge with Lewis in the fairway behind her.

"I knew on the last hole you can get on for two so I was a little nervous coming up 18," Kim said.

Lewis put her second shot into green-side rough and had a chip shot for eagle to force a playoff. But it bounced past the cup to hand Kim the triumph.

"(Kim's) seven-under is a great score," Lewis said. "I knew it was going to take something like that. Got off to a bit of a slow start but proud of the way I came back on the back nine there and gave it a shot."

The runner-up effort was the 12th top-three finish for Lewis since her most recent LPGA victory 19 months ago at the 2014 Northwest Arkansas Championship, her ninth second-place showing in the span, the second-longest win drought of her career.

Thailand's Pornanong Phatlum fired a 65 to match the tournament record and share fifth on 277 with American Paula Creamer and South Korea's Lee Il Hee. American Brittany Lincicome also shot a 65 to share eighth on 278 with South Korean Kwak Min Seo and English teenager Charley Hull.