Seo wins Kia Classic for first LPGA Tour title

(China Daily)
Updated: 2010-03-30 10:43
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CARLSBAD, California - South Korea's Seo Hee-kyung won the inaugural Kia Classic for her first LPGA Tour title on Sunday, closing with a 2-under 70 for a six-stroke victory in a final round marked by Michelle Wie's latest rules gaffe.

Seo wins Kia Classic for first LPGA Tour title

Seo received one of the three sponsor's exemptions to get into the tournament, her sixth on the LPGA Tour. The 23-year-old Seo, an 11-time winner on the Korean women's tour, now has the option to become an LPGA Tour member this or next season.

After opening with a 70 at La Costa, Seo had rounds of 67, 69 and 70 for a 12-under 276 total.

South Koreans swept the top four spots, with Inbee Park (65) finishing second at 6 under, and Shin Ji-yai (70) and Lee Jee-young (70) sharing third at 5 under.

Seo said she'll probably finish the season on the Korean tour and think about joining the LPGA Tour in the offseason.

Wie was penalized two strokes for grounding her club in a hazard after hitting out of the water near the 11th green, giving her a double-bogey 7. She was notified of the penalty by LPGA Tour rules official Doug Brecht a few holes later. At the time, she was five strokes behind Seo. Wie ended up with a 72 to tie for fifth at 4 under.

"It just doesn't seem right," Wie told Brecht on the course.

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After her round, Wie went to a TV truck to review video with officials.

"They interpreted it differently than what I felt," Wie said. "I knew I did ground the club. At the same time I knew that I felt off-balance. I closed my eyes and hit the shot and grounded my club so I wouldn't fall into the water while wearing a white skirt.

"I accept it," she said, speaking with reporters a few feet off the 18th green just as Seo was about to receive her trophy. "I accept the fact that it was a penalty stroke if you ground a club. But the fact is I felt like I was off balance. That's why I grounded the club. That's a rule so there's nothing I can do about it."

Wie has run up against golf's rule book a number of times.

In her first pro tournament, the 2005 Samsung World Championship, she took a penalty drop for an unplayable lie during her third round. At the end of the tournament, officials ruled she made her drop at the wrong place, should have taken a two-shot penalty and disqualified her for signing an incorrect card.

"It's always the kind of thing like, 'Oh, it always happens to me',"Wie said on Sunday, "but it's Murphy's Law, I guess."

Asked about Wie's troubles, Seo said: "No, I didn't care about that."

Associated Press