MEXICO CITY • South Korea's 12th-ranked Kim Sei Young defeated Thailand's world No. 3 Ariya Jutanugarn 1-up in Sunday's final to win the Lorena Ochoa Match Play title - her sixth on the LPGA Tour.
The 2015 LPGA Rookie of the Year collected her first victory since last June's Meijer LPGA Classic, winning the first three holes and fighting off a late comeback to win the first LPGA matchplay event since 2012.
"It was a really tough day," said Kim, who trailed for only four of the 95 holes she played at Club de Golf Mexico.
"I never had such a hard win like today. I am happy that I was able to win and hold this trophy."
Ariya, who captured the first of her five LPGA titles exactly a year ago, had defeated American Michelle Wie 4&3 in a morning semi-final, while Kim downed 25th-ranked compatriot Hur Mi Jung 5&4 in the other.
Hur outlasted Wie in 22 holes in the third-place match.
Kim led after every hole all day, winning the first three holes in both her matches and holding on for victories.
She opened the final birdie-eagle-birdie to jump 3-up on Ariya with threes at the first and second holes and a two at the par-three third hole.
Kim kept that lead to the turn as both women followed with six pars.
Ariya won her first hole with a par four at the 10th to pull within 2-down and both birdied to halve the par-five 11th.
Kim birdied the 12th hole, stretching her lead back to 3-up, but Ariya answered by winning the par-3 14th when Kim made bogey, trimming the lead to two with four holes to play.
Both parred to halve the 15th and par-three 16th holes, Kim lipping out a birdie putt that would have clinched the victory.
Kim then hit her tee shot wide right and out of bounds at the par-five 17th and lost the hole to Ariya's birdie, leaving her 1-up on the 18th tee.
"I tried to stay calm but I really couldn't," Kim said. "My hands were shaking, my legs were shaking too. It was really hard to keep calm."
Both parred the last hole, however, and Kim had her victory.
"She is an aggressive player," Kim said of Ariya. "Even with the 3-up start, I was still very nervous and focused on making birdies, just kept playing as if I was one down."
The win came as a big relief for Kim as she had missed the cut at the Volunteers of America Texas Shootout before playing in Mexico.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS