(File pix) South Korea's Kim Sei-young celebrates with the trophy her victory in the Lorena Ochoa Match Play LPGA tournament after defeating Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand, at the Mexico Golf Club in Mexico City, Mexico, 07 May 2017. EPA Photo

MEXICO CITY: South Korea’s 12th-ranked Kim Sei-Young edged Thailand’s third-ranked Ariya Jutanugarn 1-up in Sunday’s final to win the Lorena Ochoa Match Play title and capture her sixth career LPGA triumph.

Kim, the 2015 LPGA Rookie of the Year, collected her first victory since last June’s Meijer LPGA Classic, winning the first three holes and fighting off a late comeback to win the first LPGA match-play event since 2012

“It was a really tough day today,” said Kim, who trailed for only four of the 95 holes she played at Club de Golf Mexico. “I never had such a hard win like today. I am happy that I was able to win and hold this trophy.”

Ariya, who captured the first of her five LPGA titles exactly a year ago, had defeated American Michelle Wie 4 and 3 in the morning semi-finals while Kim downed 25th-ranked compatriot Hur Mi-Jung 5 and 4.

Hur outlasted Wie in 22 holes in the third-place match.

Kim led after every hole all day, winning the first three holes in both her matches and holding on for victories.

She opened the final birdie-eagle-birdie to jump 3-up on Ariya with threes at the first and second and a two at the par-3 third. Kim kept that lead to the turn as both women followed with six pars.

Ariya won her first hole with a par 4 at the 10th to pull within 2-down and both birdied to halve the par-5 11th as the tension grew.

Kim birdied the 12th, stretching her lead back to 3-up, but Ariya answered by winning the par-3 14th when Kim made bogey, trimming the lead to two with four to play.

Both parred to halve the 15th and par-3 16th, Kim lipping out a birdie putt that would have clinched the victory.

Kim then hit her tee shot wide right and out of bounds at the par-5 17th and would lose the hole to Ariya’s birdie, leaving her 1-up on the 18th tee.

“I tried to stay calm but I really couldn’t,” Kim said. “My hands were shaking, my legs were shaking too. It was really hard to keep calm.”

Both parred the last, however, and Kim had her victory.

In the third-place match, Wie leaped ahead 5-up after 10 but Hur took the next three holes then parred to win the 15th and 17th to square the match.

Both made bogeys at 18 to force extra holes. On the 20th, Hur chipped in and Wie matched her birdie. They both parred 18 again on the 21st hole but Wie’s par putt at the 16th lipped out to hand Hur the win.

In the semi-finals, Ariya birdied the par-5 sixth and Wie lost the par-4 eighth and 12th holes on bogeys. Ariya birdied the par-3 14th to go 4-up and parred the 15th to halve the hole and seal the triumph.

Hur, seeking her third career LPGA title and first since 2014, had upset world number one Lydia Ko of New Zealand in the third round.

But she was undone from the start in the semi-finals as Kim opened birdie-eagle-par with threes on each hole to jump ahead and a birdie to win the par-5 sixth for a 4-up lead.

Kim began the back nine by winning the par-4 10th with a par. Hur won her only hole with a birdie at the 12th and birdied 13 but Kim eagled to win the 13th and matched Hur’s birdie to halve the par-3 14th and close out the victory. -- AFP

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