Kim takes Sicilian win

Christina Kim outplayed the rest of the field to lift her maiden Ladies European Tour trophy at the Sicilian Ladies Italian Open.

Christina Kim outplayed the rest of the field on a cold and blustery final day at Il Picciolo Golf Club in Castiglione di Sicilia to lift her maiden Ladies European Tour trophy at the Sicilian Ladies Italian Open.

Kim closed with a two under par round of 70 in temperatures of around 11 degrees Celsius against the backdrop of a snow-capped Mount Etna and was one of only five players under par for the day. She ended with a three-round total of 209 seven under par and finished four strokes clear of Italian Giulia Sergas.

“It was a really difficult day today and the golf course was showing all of its teeth with the rain, the wind, the thunder, the volcano, everything. It’s just such an incredible feeling right now,” Kim said.

“I’m just so happy and the last two holes were proving to be very difficult for me but thankfully I came out on top and I’m just so grateful. I had an incredible caddie with me this week in Raf Armand and everything has been perfect.”

The charismatic Californian began the final round a stroke behind Gwladys Nocera but had wiped out the deficit by the time that dangerous weather conditions forced a 40 minute delay at 12:35.

After play resumed, Nocera bogeyed the fourth giving Kim a one stroke advantage and the 27-year-old American then bogeyed the seventh, which was playing into a strong wind.

A run of three birdies from the ninth saw Kim go two clear and she moved five ahead of the field after picking up shots at the 13th and 15th holes.

Nocera was keeping pace in second but her six at the 339-yard 17th followed by a bogey at the last proved costly. The Frenchwoman slipped back into a tie for third place with Italian Stefania Croce at two under par.

Kim bogeyed the last two holes to walk away with the €30,000 first prize and her third career victory following two wins on the LPGA Tour in 2004 and 2005.

She was able to share the moment with her Kiwi boyfriend, Duncan French, who was caddying for Nocera, while her caddie Armand is Nocera’s former long-term bagman.

As a member of both the US LPGA and Ladies European Tour, Kim has been making regular appearances in Europe and she said: “I’ve wanted to win so badly here on the LET. Although the LPGA is my first tour this is like a second home for me and the competition is incredible here every week.

“To know that I would be able to win out here is such a phenomenal feeling. On both of my tours I’ve got at least one win under my belt and I can’t wait to see how many more I may get in my career.

“Look at where we play: this week we are in Sicily, yesterday I was at Castelmola which dates back to like, 900 BC or something. The ruins are incredible. It’s everything: the food, the people, the players, the play is fantastic: incredible competition every week and you get to meet a wide variety of people be it the players, the officials, the people associated with the tournament. You meet so many people from so many different federations. It never hurts to broaden your world.”

The Italian galleries, who posed for multiple pictures with Kim, were delighted that two of their own earned a podium finish after Sergas and Croce both ended with rounds of 73.

“It feels great. It is wonderful because everybody is beside you and you don’t find that in any other tournament,” said Sergas. “Everybody is cheering for you and congratulating you and they are happy no matter what, even if I didn’t win but I just came second.”