Golf: South Korea's Chun In-gee wins Women's PGA Championship

Chun In-gee Chun plays her shot from the ninth tee, on June 26, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

BETHESDA, UNITED STATES (AFP) - Chun In-gee captured her third major title on Sunday (June 26), winning the Women’s PGA Championship to claim her first major since 2016 and snap a victory drought of almost four years.

The 27-year-old South Korean fired a three-over par 75 in windy conditions at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland, to finish 72 holes on five-under 283.

That was good enough for a one-stroke triumph over American Lexi Thompson and Australian Minjee Lee to take the $1.35 million top prize from a record $9 million purse.

“It just means a lot because I didn’t have any wins for almost 3 1/2 years,” Chun said, her voice cracking with emotion. “My loyal fans in Korea, they never gave up on me no matter how I did.” Chun, ranked 33rd, had not won since October 2018 at the Hana Bank Championship in South Korea, a 76-event worldwide winless streak.

But after squandering what had been a three-stroke lead when the day began, Chun added a third career major trophy after the 2015 US Women’s Open and 2016 Evian Championship.

Chun dominated the first two rounds and led by as many as seven strokes before struggling to 75s in each of the final two rounds while sixth-ranked Thompson charged.

Thompson, however, could not end an eight-year major win drought since her 2014 Kraft Nabisco Championship trophy at age 19 or a three-year overall victory drought.

The American settled for her 11th top-five major finish since capturing her first major victory and her fourth major runner-up effort.

Thompson, tied for the lead with Chun at the par-4 17th, made a three-putt bogey to give the Asian star a one-stroke lead as they reached the 72nd hole of the week.

At the par-4 18th, Chun went into back greenside rough with her approach while Thompson had a long birdie putt. Chun rolled her putt over a ridge and five feet past the cup while Thompson two-putted for par, leaving Chun one last putt for the title.

Chun calmly rolled in the tension-packed putt and pumped her right fist as the ball fell into the cup and gave her a third career major title.

Chun stumbles early

Chun began the final round on 8-under with a three-stroke lead over Thompson, but Chun made bogeys on three of the first six holes while Thompson birdied the first and third to seize the lead.

Thompson stumbled with a bogey at the par-3 seventh but Chun made a bogey at the par-5 ninth and Thompson again enjoyed a two-stroke edge.

Thompson and Chun matched birdies at the par-5 11th and bogeys at the par-4 12th, Chun lipping out her five-foot par putt at 12 to remain two back.

But Thompson missed a tap-in par putt at the par-4 14th and fell to 5-under with Chun one adrift.

At the par-4 15th, however, Thompson sank a 12-foot birdie putt and restored a two-stroke lead at 6-under with three holes remaining.

Chun responded with an eight-foot birdie putt at the par-5 16th while Thompson made a bogey, leaving them deadlocked for the lead to set up the closing drama.

Thailand’s Atthaya Thitikul was fourth on 285 while a fifth-place pack on 287 included Japan’s Nasa Hataoka, Australian Hannah Green and South Koreans Kim Hyo-joo, Kim Sei-young and Choi Hye-jin.

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