Updated: January, 2017

SEI YOUNG KIM

 

The Facts

Birthday: January 21, 1993
Rookie Year: 2015
Birthplace: South Korea
LPGA Wins: 5
Best LPGA Major Finish: 2nd (2015 KPMG Women's PGA Championship)
Best Score: 62 (2016 JTBC Founders Cup)
Best Scoring Average for a Year: 70.25 (2016)
Best Season Money Total: $1,820,056 (2015)
Best Season Money Position: 4th (2015)
Most Top Tens/Season: 11 (2015)
Rookie of the Year Finish: Won it!
Height: 5' 7"
2017 LPGA Status: Category 1
Nicknames: None Known
Sponsors: Mirae Assets
How's her English?: Unknown
Hobbies: Reading, listening to music
Road to the LPGA: Finished T-6th at 2014 Q-School

Capsule Bio

Sei Young Kim is a third degree black belt in Taekwondo who joined the KLPGA in 2011. In her first two seasons, her best finish was a 6th place, and she rarely contended for titles, finishing well back on the money list both years.

But in 2013, Sei Young Kim broke through in a major way. One of the longest drivers on tour, Kim won the first event of the main part of the year by making an eagle on the final hole. She cooled off a bit after that, but caught fire again in the latter half of the year, winning back-to-back events at one point.

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Those wins came at two of the more important events on the KLPGA calendar. The first win was at the Hanwha Classic, the year's most lucrative event. Kim was 6 shots behind defending champ So Yeon Ryu with 10 holes to play. She then holed out for eagle, beginning an improbable run up the leaderboard. On the 17th, still three shots back, she made a hole-in-one for her second holeout of the round. Ryu bogied the final hole and Kim won in a playoff.

The next event was the year's second Major, the KLPGA Championship. Rookie star In Gee Chun was looking for her second straight Major, and looked in control until a couple of bogies knocked her back to the field. Kim made three late birdies to post a score. Chun needed a birdie to force a playoff but missed a short one, and Kim had her first Major win.

In the end, Kim earned a staggering 670 million won in 2013. She led the money list much of the year before Ha Na Jang rallied and overtook her; thus, Kim finished second. Kim also finished 4th on the scoring average list, and had 7 top tens, three of which were wins. Her three wins tied her (with Jang) for most wins on the KLPGA in 2013.

Kim also came close to winning an LPGA event in 2013. She led much of the back nine at the LPGA's KEB Hana Bank Championship in Korea. But she made bogey on the last hole to drop out of the playoff between Amy Yang and Hee Kyung Seo that Yang eventually won. She thus finished tied for third in her first LPGA event.

Kim had an excellent 2014 on the KLPGA, though not quite as good as her 2013 had been. She had 12 top tens and two wins, and finished 10th on the KLPGA money list with roughly 445 million won earned. Besides the two wins, she also lost in a playoff at the ADT-CAPS to rookie star Min Sun Kim (another top player, Yoon Kyung Heo, was also in the playoff).

Kim also played in five LPGA events in 2014, although she didn't have particularly good results. Included in those five were her first two Majors: the US Women's Open, where she finished tied for 46th, and the Kraft Nabisco, where she finished tied for 61st. At the end of the year, she went to LPGA Q-School and finished tied for 6th, earning a tour card for 2015.

In 2015, she joined a deep field of KLPGA stars who were rookies, including top players Hyo Joo Kim, Kyu Jung Baek and Ha Na Jang, as well as a number of other talented players, including former world #1 amateur Minjee Lee. And amazingly, despite the competition, it was Sei Young Kim who won the Rookie of the Year award!

Kim started her season with a missed cut, but in her second start, she fought her way into a three way playoff. She won on the first playoff hole, beating Korean player Sun Young Yoo and rookie Ariya Jutanugarn at the Pure Silk Bahamas. She followed that up with another top five in Thailand, and a 6th a few weeks later at the Founders Cup.

At the year's first Major, the ANA Inspiration, Sei Young Kim charged to a 54 hole lead, but was not able to hold on and finished fourth. But her disappointment didn't last long. At her next start, the Lotte Championship in Hawaii, she battled into a final round matchup with top Korean gun Inbee Park and another star, IK Kim. After a clutch par save on the 17th hole, she was still tied for the lead with Park, but hit her drive on 18 into the water. Game over? No, because Kim hit her third to the fringe, then chipped in for par to force a playoff. In the first hole of the playoff, she hit a spectacular iron that bounced twice, then landed in the cup for eagle and the win. She played 18 twice on Sunday, and never putted it once! Kim's win, with two holeouts in the final two holes, was one of the most incredible in Korean golf history.

In June, Kim once again found herself in the final group at a Major on Sunday. This time it was the KPMG Women's PGA Championship, and once again she was matched against Inbee Park. But this time, Park got the best of Kim, who faded to solo second. That was still her best Major result, and it established her as the rookie to beat for the rest of the season.

Kim also contended at the Canadian Women's Open, where she missed a birdie putt on the final hole that would have gotten her into a playoff for the title. In October, she collected her third win of the year in China, once again working her magic by chipping in to save par on one hole after hitting her approach into the water.

Kim clinched the Rookie of the Year when Hyo Joo Kim was not able to win in Mexico the following week. Sei Young wound up with over $1.8 million in earnings, putting her fourth on the money list. She was 8th in scoring average, 10th in driving distance, 2nd in birdies made and first in eagles made, and 3rd in the Player of the Year race. It was an astounding year for Sei Young Kim, and set her up to quite possibly make the Olympic team in 2016.

In December, Kim also played at the Kowa Queens Team event. She lost her team match (paired with In Gee Chun), but rolled in her singles match to a huge win.

Sei Young Kim had another monster season in 2016. She added two more LPGA wins to her resume, and qualified for both the International Crown and the Olympics. She struggled at the Olympics, finishing 25th, but was one of the stars on the Korean International Crown team, which finished second to the US.

Kim got her season off to a great start with a near miss at the year's first event, the Pure Silk Bahamas. She finished second there to Hyo Joo Kim. She managed a tie for third in her next start at the Coates, losing to old rival Ha Na Jang. But everything came together for Sei Young in Phoenix at the Founders Cup. She shot a 63, her best LPGA score to date, in the first round, and bettered that with a 62 in the final round for a 27 under total, the lowest score with relation to par a Korean had ever achieved on the LPGA.

Sei Young got her second win of the season at the Meijer Classic. She made bogey on the final hole to drop into a playoff with Spain's Carlotta Ciganda, but kept her playoff record perfect with a fantastic approach shot from the rough to two feet on the playoff hole.

Sei Young also had a runner-up in Canada and a fifth place finish at the Evian Championship among her 9 top tens. Her money total and position was just a little worse than 2015: she earned $1,445,937, which put her in 6th on the money list, the second highest ranked Korean behind In Gee Chun.

Sei Young also played the KLPGA's Mirae Asset Daewoo Classic in September. She just missed out on the playoff, finishing third. In November, Sei Young played on the victorious LPGA team at the ING Champions, contributing a singles win over Ji Hyun Oh and a team win combined with So Yeon Ryu (she lost the other team match teamed with Mi Hyang Lee).

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