CROSSVILLE – Ever since her graduation from Northwestern University back in the spring, Hannah Kim has been busy preparing for LPGA Tour Qualifying School in August.
At this rate, she is going to be carrying a wealth of momentum with her as she looks to take the next step in her young professional golf career.
Just 10 days after earning her first victory as a pro in the Illinois Women’s Open, Kim recorded her second title. She shot a final round of even-par, 72 on Saturday to claim the victory in the 20th annual Golf Capital of Tennessee Women’s Open at Stonehenge Golf Club.
Kim tallied a three-day total of 4-under, 212.
“After college, I knew I needed to play in a couple of state events in preparation for Q school,” said the two-time Big Ten Conference Player of the Year. “I knew the Tennessee Open would be a good challenge for me, and I had heard great things about this tournament.”
Kim finished one stroke ahead of two golfers – Ashli Bunch, a veteran from Morristown, Tenn., and Maria Fernanda Lira Solis of Mexico City, who is also a recent college graduate and was making her professional debut.
Kim and Lira Solis were tied at 4-under entering the day and stayed deadlocked for most of the round, up until there were just two holes remaining.
On the par four, 17th, though, Lira Solis three-putted for a bogey and that ended up being the deciding factor in the tournament.
Bunch, who played collegiately at Furman and was the Southern Conference Player of the Year in 1997, made a furious rally to put herself in contention on Saturday.
She entered the day at 3-over for the tournament, but made five birdies on her way to a 31 on her front nine. She then birdied No. 10 but finished her round with eight straight pars.
Kim and Lira Solis both birdied No. 9 to get to 5-under on the leaderboard, but then they both bogeyed No. 12.
Kim said the Tennessee Women’s Open victory had a different feel to it compared to her win in the Illinois Women’s Open earlier this month.
Part of that, she said, had to do with the battle she found herself in down the stretch on Saturday. She also said the large crowds at Stonehenge played a factor in her nervousness.
“One of the things I was actually thinking about coming up 18 was no state event is the same,” Kim noted. “The Illinois Open was not like this one. I was in the lead at the Illinois Open and I didn’t feel the nerves that I felt here.”
“I think it was just knowing that I needed to beat Fernanda. Having her three-putt on 17, it was not something I was expecting, so that got my heart racing. And the Illinois Open, I had a bigger gap between second place so I could golf a little more comfortably.”
Mychael O’Berry, an Auburn University golfer and native of Hoover, Ala., finished as the low amateur of the tournament as she turned in a final round 68 to end up at 2-under overall.
She tied for fourth place with former Ohio State University golfer Jessica Porvasnik, former University of Tennessee-Chattanooga golfer Emily McLennan, and California native Karah Sanford.
Defending Tennessee Women’s Open champion Sarah Hoffman bounced back from an opening-round 78 on Thursday with back-to-back rounds of 2-under, 70. She finished at 2-over for the tournament in a tie for eighth place.
GOLF CAPITAL OF TENNESSEE
AT STONEHENGE GOLF CLUB
Final round, July 28
1 Hannah Kim -4
T2 Ashli Bunch -3
T2 Maria Fernanda Lira Solis -3
T4 Mychael O’Berry (a) -2
T4 Jessica Porvasnik -2
T4 Karah Sanford -2
T4 Emily McLennan -2
T8 Sarah Hoffman +2
T8 Kasey Petty +2
T8 Eunice Yik +2
T11 Rachel Taylor +3
T11 Alyssa Montgomery +3
T11 Nicole Autrique +3
T14 Elsa Moberly (a) +4
T14 Nadine White +4
T14 Kie Purdom (a) +4
T14 Hanley Long (a) +4
T18 Meagan Wallace +5
T18 Brooke Baker +5
For full results from the 20th annual Golf Capital of Tennessee Women’s Open:https://www.golfgenius.com/pages/1330097