Ladies European Tour
Apr 17th, 2022
Sihwan Kim Wins Asian Mixed Stableford Challenge
American rounds off an excellent week with two point victory
Photography: Asian Tour
The US$750,000 event, which was co-sanctioned by the Ladies European Tour and Asian Tour, saw a Modified Stableford being used with points based on the number of strokes taken at each hole with albatross: 8 points, eagle: 5 points, birdie: 2 points, par: 0 points, bogey: -1 point, double bogey or more: -3 points.
After four rounds, Kim came out on top scoring 49 points to claim the inaugural title and finish two points ahead of Sweden’s Maja Stark, who was the best-placed female.
Heading into the final day, the 33-year-old held an eight-point lead but didn’t get off to the best of starts with a bogey on the second hole.
Three birdies on the 5th, 8th and 12th saw the American extended his points advantage at the top of the leaderboard before another dropped shot on 13th, but then came a rain delay for 90 minutes.
After the resumption, Kim came out the blocks firing with three birdies in-a-row and although he made a double bogey on the last it was enough to record his second win in six weeks.
“Obviously any win is a hard win. With Phachara just going strong in the beginning that put extra pressure on me, but after the restart I think that cooled Phachara off and made me hot,” said Sihwan.
“I just said on 18 all I need to do is make par, I was seven points ahead. All I needed to do was get it into play and I thought the wind was more into, but I did kind of fan it right and I didn’t think it was going to go that far into the bushes and after that I said I just should have hit driver anyway.
“This is the first time I had had a 10-under and an 11-under in a tournament and my putting has just been phenomenal, that’s pretty much what got me through it, and those putts were not short either. The putts on 14 and 16 were pretty lengthy ones, I am really confident in my putting now.”
Sweden’s Stark began her day on 34 points but birdies on the first and third holes, as well as an eagle on the 8th hole put her within two points of leader Kim.
The two-time LET winner said: “A birdie on the first hole was nice. It was a six-metre putt, and I haven’t really made any long putts, so that was nice to start off with that and I feel like I gave most putts a chance and that was because of the confidence I got from the first putt.
On three I stuck it pretty close and then after that, I didn’t really have my favourite putting distances. The eagle on eight, I had an eight-iron in again, so it was a simple eagle.”
Putts weren’t rolling in as easily on the back nine and although the 2017 PING Junior Solheim Cup player enjoyed chasing down the American, two birdies in her last four holes was not enough to catch the Asian Tour Order of Merit leader as she ended with a total of 47 points.
“There was a bit of pressure when he made both of those birdies after the break. It was also more fun because I knew I had seven points to catch up and I was thinking about what I needed to do,” said Stark, who finished sixth in the 2021 Race to Costa del Sol.
“I wanted to make an eagle on 18 and a birdie at somewhere else and obviously, that didn’t happen, but it was fun to think like that. I didn’t see anyone’s tee shot on 18 so I was very surprised when Sihwan was driven back, and it made me think ‘ooh it could happen’.
“But sadly, I think I had a little bit too much adrenaline. It is not often I hit a hybrid 230m into the wind, so I think a bit too much adrenaline with that one. I’m happy with my game. My putting could have been a lot better, and my irons today weren’t very good today.
“I shot -6 today and -20 is by far my best score on a four-round tournament. I’m happy with it. I feel like I have finally come back from winter golf and it being really cold and playing on even par is a fantastic score with those conditions, but I am very happy to get into the birdie and eagle mindset.”
Thailand’s Budsabakorn finished in third place on 42 points with compatriots Phahara Khongwatmai in fourth on 41 and Sadom Kaewkanjana in fifth on 40.
Korea’s Joohyung Kim and Thailand’s Natipong Srithong end the tournament in a tie for sixth place on 39 points, while Australian Andrew Dodt and Thai duo Jazz Janewattananond and Chanettee Wannasaen round out the top 10 on 38 points.
In the 2022 Race to Costa del Sol, Stark catapulted herself up the rankings from 58th to third place and she now has 567.50 points behind leader Lee-Anne Pace (681.87) and fellow Swede Linn Grant (586.25).