Katherine Kirk wins Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic
Katherine Kirk eyes a putt during the third round of the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic golf tournament Saturday, July 8, 2017, in Oneida, Wis. (Jim Matthews/The Post-Crescent via AP)
ONEIDA, Wis. — Katherine Kirk won the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic on Sunday, matching Ashleigh Buhai with a birdie on the final hole for a one-stroke victory.
Four strokes ahead of Buhai entering the round, Kirk made a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-4 18th for a 2-under 70. She finished at 22-under 266 in the first year event at Thornberry Creek — the Oneida Nation-owned resort near Green Bay.
“Ashleigh played great all day,” Kirk said. “I put the pressure on her. Pretty fun finish there. I knew I had to make it. She played great, so all credit to her.”
The 35-year-old Australian won her third LPGA Tour title and first in 152 starts since the 2010 Navistar LPGA Classic. She also won the 2008 Canadian Women’s Open.
“So much hard work and patience,” Kirk said. “I had a rough couple years like 2015 and 2016, and just an amazing team behind me. My husband has been 100 per cent supportive the whole time. I can’t put it into words. It’s just a great feeling.”
Kirk earned $300,000 and secured a spot next week in the U.S. Women’s Open. She had six birdies and four bogeys Sunday after opening with rounds of 68, 63 and 65.
Buhai, from South Africa, shot a 67.
“We both played great this week,” Buhai said about Kirk. “Today, 5 under, no bogeys. I had three lip-outs on the back nine, but I hit the putts and the shots that I had to just keep hitting. Finally on 18, it was just a little close, and enough to think maybe I could hole the putt, but the two shots Katherine hit on 16 and 18 to work it around trees were fantastic, so all good to her.”
Hamilton’s Alena Sharp (68) was the low Canadian at 13 under. Brooke Henderson (69) of Smiths Falls, Ont., and Augusta James (68) of Bath, Ont., were at 11 under while Samantha Richdale (78) of Kelowna, B.C., fell to an even par.
South Korea’s Sei Young Kim was third at 20 under after a 63.
“I have good momentum,” Kim said. “I’m very looking forward to next week, so exciting. I can’t wait for next week.”
Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum shot a career-best 62 — also the best round of the week — to finish fourth at 19 under.
“Tee shot pretty good and also putting very good,” Phatlum said. “Like no three-putt, and then can make eight birdies and one eagle. Really fantastic.”