With a final-round 2-under-par 70, Australian Katherine Kirk put the finishing touches on her third LPGA Tour victory at the inaugural Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic.
Kirk, who went 152 LPGA Tour starts between her last victory at the 2010 Navistar LPGA Classic and this week, birdied the 72nd hole to finish at 22-under par, the lowest four-round tournament total in her career.
“To make that putt (on 18) was huge,” said Kirk. “All wins are good. Winning out here is hard, and it’s gotten a lot harder out here since I first did it, that’s for sure. There is so much talent out here now and it makes it so much harder to win. I think I’m the 15th-oldest player on Tour, so if you’re looking at age it’s more in favour of the younger generation these days… but hard work pays off. I’m grateful for the opportunity to still be playing, and I still love it.”
Kirk had an up-and-down Sunday with four bogeys offset by six birdies, and was able to hold off all challengers including Sei Young Kim and Pornanong Phatlum, who shot rounds of 9-under and 10-under respectively.
Kirk set a new career-low tournament score to par at 22-under, besting her previous low of 19-under which she shot in her last victory at the 2010 Navistar LPGA Classic.
Kirk earns a spot in the field at next week’s U.S. Women’s Open thanks to her win at Thornberry Creek – it will be her 13th career appearance in the major championship and her first since 2015. Kirk’s best finish at the U.S. Women’s Open was T25 in 2007.
Kirk’s $401,864 in earnings in 2017 already ranks fourth for her personal earnings in a single season mark in her 14-year LPGA career.
Kirk’s final round score of 70 is the highest finish by a winner on the LPGA in 2017 (69 was previous high).
Last season, Brittany Lang was the oldest player to capture a victory on the LPGA by winning the U.S. Women’s Open at the age of 30. Through 18 events in 2017, two players 35-or-older have wins – Cristie Kerr (39, LOTTE Championship Presented by HERSHEY) and Katherine Kirk (35, Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic).
The average age of winners in 2017 is 26.67 years old, compared to 22.3 years old in 2016.
Five players from five different countries finished in the top five at the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic.
Kirk is the 17th different winner on Tour this season; So Yeon Ryu remains the only repeat winner.
VIDEO: Interview with Katherine Kirk