March 30, 2010 09:11
Seo Hee-kyung won her first U.S. LPGA title on Sunday at La Costa in Carlsbad, California, finishing at 12-under 276 in the Kia Classic, the first tour event of the year in the U.S.
Seo was able to play in the event thanks to a sponsor's exemption. She hit under 72 in all four rounds among 144 competitors, and finished six strokes ahead of Park In-bee, who hit seven-under in the last round for second place.
The top of the leaderboard was filled with Korean golfers -- Shin Ji-yai and Lee Jee-young tied for third place at five-under, and Korean-American Michelle Wie tied for sixth at four-under after incurring a two-stroke penalty for grounding her club in a hazard.
Seo had 11 wins in the Korean LPGA Tour, but she is a rookie on the U.S. tour, with the Kia Classic her sixth event. She played in five U.S. LPGA events last year, and her best finish was 15th in the SBS Open.
Seo, who has been nicknamed "Supermodel of the Fairways" for her fashion sense and 1.72-m height, looked a bit like a bodybuilder at the Kia Classic thanks an intensive physical training program undertaken over the past two months in Hawaii. She focused on building the muscles in her lower body and back for two to three hours a day, three days a week. "If I were a supermodel, would I be working out like that?" Seo said. "I'm just a golfer who does whatever it takes to play well."
The win automatically qualifies Seo to play in the U.S. LPGA Tour, and she will compete in the first major event of the season, the Nabisco Championship, this week. But she said she has not yet decided if she will switch to play full-time on the U.S. LPGA Tour, but will make up her mind after discussing it with her family.
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