GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP, N.J. >> In-Kyung Kim held off two-time defending champion Anna Nordqvist today in the ShopRite LPGA Classic for her fifth tour title.
Tied with Paula Creamer for the second-round lead, Kim closed with a 2-under 69 in windy conditions for a two-stroke victory over Nordqvist at Stockton Seaview. Kim finished at 11-under 202, four shots ahead of third-place Michelle Wie.
“Just so windy. … It was tough,” Kim said. “I feel really pleased with how I played today. Was really tricky and challenge out there, but I gave my best.”
Kim was making her sixth start since bruising her tailbone falling down stairs. The 28-year-old South Korean player won the Reignwood LPGA Classic late last season in China.
“That took a long time. Now I feel much better,” Kim said. “But actually helped me to work on my upper body — more stronger — while I couldn’t work on my low body. But I’m really happy to come back stronger than was I before.”
Nordqvist shot a 69.
“Just having the honor to back-to-back defend is quite amazing,” Nordqvist said. “There is a little bit of pressure coming into it, but it’s just been fun. I’m trying to embrace it. I love this golf course, I love hitting the shots. … It’s been really windy the last two days. The way I’m controlling the ball I’m really happy with. Just seem to be doing the right stuff, so I’m excited for the next couple weeks.”
Honolulu’s Wie had a 65 to tie for third at 7 under with Jenny Shin (69), Jacqui Concolino (70) and Jeong Eun Lee (71). Wie has finished in the top 10 at four events this year.
“I just stuck it in there close today,” Wie said. “I was kind of frustrated after my first round. Couldn’t get my wedges in close at all, so I spent a lot of time on the range afterward just working on my wedge game. I’m glad it paid off today. I hit it a lot closer today, which felt good.”
Creamer had a 74 to drop into a tie for seventh at 6 under.
“You can’t shoot over par on Sunday, that’s for sure,” Creamer said.
Creamer’s group with Kim and Moriya Jutanugarn were put on the clock for slow play on the back nine.
“We were on the clock for four holes,” Creamer said. “That’s just not going to cut it. That’s unfortunate, because I said early on to the girls we got to try to keep up. I know we’re getting behind. But for four holes, that’s a long time. We just couldn’t get a rhythm. And especially with some of these pins and with the wind and everything, it’s all happening so fast and you kind of can’t regroup. I didn’t do a very good job of that.”
After making a birdie on the par-4 13th, Kim bogeyed the par-4 14th.
“Last group, wind like this, but we were I think little slow and we were on the clock on those tricky holes,” Kim said. “I had to rush one time. The bogey I made was 150 (yards) front and I hit 170 club. My caddie was like, ‘What are you doing?’ I’m like, ‘I had no idea. I was rushing.’”
Jutanugarn closed with a 72 to also tie for seventh at 6 under.
On Saturday, sister Ariya Jutanugarn took the No. 1 spot in the world ranking to be released Monday. Taking the week off, Ariya Jutanugarn replaced Lydia Ko atop the ranking when So Yeon Ryu missed the cut. Ko, also skipping the event, was guaranteed to lose the top spot to Ariya Jutanugarn or Ryu, and Ariya Jutanugarn got the position when Ryu failed to finish solo third or better.