LOS ANGELES (AFP) - South Korean Kim Sei-young smashed the LPGA 72-hole scoring record on Sunday (July 8), winning the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic with a stunning 31-under par total.
Kim, 24-under to start the day, fired a final-round seven-under par 65 on the par-72 Thornberry course in Oneida, Wisconsin.
Her 31-under total of 257 broke the LPGA's 72-hole scoring record in relation to par of 27-under, first set by Swedish great Annika Sorenstam in 2001 and matched by Kim herself at the 2016 Founders Cup in Phoenix.
She also broke the record for fewest strokes over 72 holes with her total of 258, achieved by Karen Stupples in 2004 and matched by Angela Stanford and Park Hee-young in 2013.
"I really feel, like, unreal," Kim said. "I never thought about shooting, like, 31-under. I really feel incredible."
However, the 25-year-old knew that she was within striking distance of the record when she set out on Sunday and gave herself the goal of playing the final round without a bogey.
"I was feeling a little bit of different than the third round because (of) a little bit of pressure," Kim admitted.
"I thought about, 'How do you handle nerves today?' Then I set my goals, just kept relaxed - except the last three holes, I couldn't control the nerves because it was almost done but I finished really good."
Kim's only blemish all week was a double bogey at the par-three 17th on Friday. Her 32 holes of birdie or better were yet another record - improving on the 30 sub-par holes in a tournament achieved previously by three players.
"It's crazy," she added.
Kim notched her seventh LPGA victory and her first since the Lorena Ochoa Match Play in Mexico last year. That victory had propelled her to eighth in the world, although she had slipped to 26th coming into this week.
She said she'd never dreamed of such a record-setting week when she was young. But ever since she'd matched her childhood idol Sorenstam's 27-under mark two years ago, Kim had "really wanted" the four-day scoring record to herself.
"I'm really happy with a dream come true," she said.
Leading by eight to eight to start the day, Kim signalled her intentions with a birdie at the first.
She picked up another stroke at the fifth and her 12-footer for birdie at the sixth moved her to 27-under.
Her approach at the ninth left her a five-foot eagle attempt, and while she settled for a birdie, that was more than enough. She cruised home with three more birdies to finish nine strokes in front of Spain's Carlota Ciganda - whose eight-under 64 put her at 266.
Ciganda, 10-under through 17 holes, closed with a disappointing double bogey at 18, where her second shot disappeared in dense undergrowth near the green.
Even without that mishap, she would have barely made a dent in Kim's margin of victory. "It's unbelievable the way she played," said Ciganda, who finished two strokes in front of Sweden's Anna Nordqvist (67), South Korean Amy Yang (68) and American Emma Talley (67).