Korea’s IK Kim held off a brilliant challenge from Yorkshire’s Jodi Ewart Shadoff to claim an overdue maiden major title in the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Kingsbarns.
Kim saw her six-shot overnight lead cut in half thanks to a superb run of scoring from Shadoff, who followed a birdie on the second with five in a row from the sixth and another on the 13th.
The 29-year-old from Northallerton then birdied the 17th to close the gap to two and parred the last to complete a 64, equalling the course record set on day one by Michelle Wie and matched by Inbee Park in round three.
However, Kim, who famously missed a one-foot putt to win the Kraft Nabisco Championship – now called the ANA Inspiration – in 2012, was able to par the final five holes for a closing 71 and winning total of 18 under par.
Shadoff’s runners-up finish is her best result in a major and secured her place on Europe’s Solheim Cup team to take on the United States in Iowa from August 18-20.
“I’m so excited,” said Ewart-Shadoff, the 29-year-old from Northallerton who moved to America a decade ago on a golfing scholarship at the University of New Mexico.
“My last Solheim (in 2013) was the best experience I’ve had on a golf course so I’m looking forward to doing it again and trying to take the trophy back.”
Ewart-Shadoff, who has been on the LPGA Tour in America since 2011, added: “No dropped shots around here, especially in these conditions, I couldn’t have asked for anything better. I played really solid and holed a lot of putts.
“I just told myself to take the opportunities when they came because the last five or six holes are the hardest on the course and you never know what can happen around there.
“I think playing last week in the Scottish Open really helped me with the weather and the wind and everything. I’ve typically never played well in links golf but this year I’ve been working with (coach) David Leadbetter a lot and he’s helped me control my ball flight.”
England’s Georgia Hall carded a final round of 70 to share third place with Wie and Germany’s Caroline Masson.
Speaking about recovering from her heartbreaking loss in 2012, Kim said: “It’s been a long process but I had a lot of helping hands. A lot of my team helped me to enjoy golf and love what I do. That’s what I have learned. I have to give the same effort to every shot and that’s what I learned from that mistake.
“I think I already experienced the worst. I don’t have as much fear. Having fun out there is more important to me and that’s all I was really focusing on. I wanted to remember every hole that I played and I really gave my best.
“Winning is great but I felt like I deserve happiness anyway.”
Europe will have four rookies in their side when they attempt to regain the Solheim Cup after captain Annika Sorenstam named her wild cards for the biennial contest against the United States.
Sorenstam described her decision to select fellow Swede Anna Nordqvist as a “no-brainer” with the world No 12 being Europe’s highest ranked player despite battling glandular fever.
And there was also no surprise to see Germany’s Caroline Masson selected although Sorenstam has taken the gamble of picking rookies Madeline Sagstrom and Emily Pedersen to complete her 12-strong team.