Eun-Hee Ji shot a final-round 5-under par 67 to capture the 2018 Kia Classic by two shots over Cristie Kerr and Lizette Salas.
Starting her final day in Carlsbad, Calif. tied for the lead at 11 under, Ji made four birdies in a five-hole stretch (Nos. 4, 6, 7, and 8) to turn at 4-under 32 and take control of the tournament.
Another gain on No. 10 followed by a hole-in-one on the par-3 14th gave Ji a comfortable four-shot lead at the time. A pair of bogeys down the stretch (Nos. 15 and 18) saw the Korean finish with a 67 and four-day score of 16-under par.
Ji, the 2009 U.S. Women’s Open champion, credited some offseason tweaks to her swing for her improved play at Aviara Golf Club.
“I changed my swing, and this winter I was working really hard on my swing,” said Ji, whose weakness has always been her length. “I’m getting a lot of distance with my driver and irons.
“On this golf course I have to hit it hard, like get it closer to the green. I got a lot of short clubs on my hands, and a lot easier to hit than back in last year.
“So, yeah, it’s a lot easier than last year.”
The American duo of Kerr and Salas signed for 14-under par scorecards to sit T2. Kerr posted a final-round 68 which included six birdies against a pair of bogeys, while Salas carded a bogey-free 69 with three gains.
In-Kyung Kim (70), Jane Park (67), and Kris Tamulis (68) finished T4 at 13-under par.
FINAL TOP 5
1 Eun-Hee Ji -16
2 Cristie Kerr -14
2 Lizette Salas -14
4 Jane Park -13
4 Kris Tamulis -13
4 In-Kyung Kim -13
FINAL LEADERBOARD & MONEY
VIDEO: JI’S HOLE-IN-ONE
“Big goal is No. 1 in the world. That’s my big goal. For now, I want another win for major, yeah.”
– Eun-Hee Ji
Credit: LPGA Tour Communications, Getty Images