Paradise Island, Bahamas – Hyo Joo Kim came to the fourth annual Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic last January just hoping to begin the year with a top-10 finish. She succeeded – by finishing first.
With a closing 7-under-par 66 at the Ocean Club Golf Course at Atlantis Resort, Kim beat the 2015 champion, Sei Young Kim, Anna Nordqvist and Stacy Lewis by two strokes for her third LPGA title. Twenty years old at the time of the win, Kim, of Kangwon-do, South Korea, finished with an 18-under 274 total to pocket $210,000 and 500 CME Globe points.
Naturally, she is hoping for the same kind of start to her year the fifth edition of the prestigious tournament is held Jan. 23-29 at the Ocean Club. Kim figures she’ll be comfortable enough.
“On this particular field where I managed to pull off some great drives and putts last time, I am definitely more confident on this course than on others, but I do also feel slightly burdened by the fact that I haven’t had a LPGA win since then,” Kim said via e-mail. “It is an honor to be starting the season off with an interview as defending champion, and I am glad to be participating as defending champion for this year’s tournament.”
Interestingly, Kim faced a similar challenge last year when she arrived at the Ocean Club. “Claiming the title at Pure-Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic last year was a greater pleasure for me because it was my first win in 10 months,” she pointed out. “Rather than overachieving, I will strive to stay focused and avoid missing opportunities that come around.
“I wish to look at the big picture, all four rounds of this tournament, to compete to the best of my abilities. I would like to thank all my fans for always supporting me, I will do my best to kick off the 2017 season with good news.”
Kim will have to defeat another strong field of 108 competitors if she intends to repeat. Four of the top-10 on the 2016 LPGA money list are among early commitments: Ariya Jutanugarn, Brooke Henderson, Sei Young Kim and Brittany Lang.
In addition to Sei Young Kim, past winners Jessica Korda and Ilhee Lee also are entered.
In other news, Pure Silk announced that it is awarding its sponsor exemption to veteran and past major winner Natalie Gulbis. The popular Gulbis has 37 career top-10 finishes and career earnings of nearly $5 million. A three-time Solheim Cup player for the United States, Gulbis won the 2007 Evian Masters. She did not make a cut in a limited schedule of eight events in 2016.
“Pure Silk is excited to give its sponsor exemption to the 2017 Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic to Natalie Gulbis,” said Jeff Chilcoat of Sterling Sports Management. “Natalie has been a brand ambassador for Pure Silk since 2012 and has a rich history on the LPGA Tour.Natalie joined the LPGA in 2002 and won the 2007 Evian Masters. She is proud to be a three time Solheim Cup member and the winner of the 2007 William and Mousie Powell Award.”
The Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic will be the fourth golf event in The Bahamas in two months and the third in the month of January, capping an exciting run of professional golf on the island nation. The Hero World Challenge, hosted by Tiger Woods, was held in December and the Web.com Tour started its season with two events: the Bahamas Great Exuma Classic and the Great Abaco Classic.
“These professional golf tournamentsprovide us with an opportunity to demonstrate the versatility of our Island destination and our ability to host major sporting events,” said Virginia Kelly, Director, Sports Tourism Marketing for The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism.