PARADISE ISLAND (Bahamas) • In a year when golf returns to the Olympics, Kim Hyo Joo could not have asked for a better start.
The South Korean won the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic after carding a seven-under 66 on Sunday, boosting her hopes of securing a berth at the Rio de Janeiro Games.
The top 15 players in the world rankings are eligible for the Olympics, but with a limit of four players per nation.
South Korea has eight players in the top 15, and victory at the Ocean Club course allowed Kim to become the fourth-highest ranked golfer at No. 7.
She came into the tournament as the world No. 10, but a third LPGA title saw her leapfrog compatriot Amy Yang (No. 9) and Chun In Gee (No. 10).
Kim said before the season opener that her goal was to win two Tour events before the Olympics in August. But after claiming her win by two strokes, she now has loftier ambitions.
"I'm going to re-evaluate my goal," said the 20-year-old. "I want to win three times before the Olympics. I've got one, two to go now."
Kim, who hit every fairway on Sunday, fired seven birdies in her opening 14 holes before finishing at 18-under 274.
American Stacy Lewis, Swede Anna Nordqvist and defending champion Kim Sei Young (68) of South Korea tied for second on 16-under.
Nordqvist, who held a share of the overnight lead with English teenager Charley Hull, shot 69, but it was not good enough to close the deal. Hull carded 71 to finish four shots back in a tie for eighth.
Kim had a three-shot lead after 15 holes, but then bogeyed the 16th as Lewis was picking up a shot at the par-five 15th, her third consecutive birdie.
But Kim recovered by knocking her four-iron stiff at the par-three 17th for a tap-in birdie and then parred the last.
"I'm really happy that I won because it's obviously a good start to the year, so good vibes," said the 2014 Evian Championship winner.
Lewis, an 11-time LPGA winner, could only par the final three holes and had to settle for yet another second place, her ninth runner-up finish since her last victory in 2014.