State Farm Rail Classic
State Farm Rail Classic
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Kim wins rookie win, Stupples gains seasons best finish

Mi Hyun Kim earned her first LPGA Tour victory. Janice Moodie didn't seem to get a fair chance at hers.

Kim, trying to follow fellow South Korean Se Ri Pak as LPGA rookie of the year, shot a 2-under-par 70 today for a one-stroke victory over Moodie and defending champion Pearl Sinn at the State Farm Rail Classic.

Kim's 54-hole total of 12-under 204 at the 6,403-yard The Rail Golf Course earned her $116,250 and gave her a comfortable lead in the race for rookie honors with five tour events to go.

Moodie, who had a two-stroke lead entering the final round, can only think of what might have been as she went for her first LPGA victory.

On the 13th hole she hit her drive into a fairway bunker. As she addressed the ball a bug landed on it and she reached down to swish it away. LPGA Tour officials assessed her a two-stroke penalty for touching the ball and suddenly she was three strokes behind Kim with five holes to play rather than one.

The ruling was seen by an LPGA official watching at home on television. It set off a chain reaction of telephone calls and two-way radio messages to officials on the course, eventually resulting in the penalty being rescinded just as Moodie walked onto the 18th tee, one shot behind.

"Yeah, it was a distraction," Moodie said afterward. "I'm annoyed. Why wouldn't I be?"

Moodie came back and had a chance to tie Kim on the final hole but her birdie putt fell short and her 73 left her tied with Sinn, who had a 68.

Moodie said the rules infraction was handled poorly, but tour officials said it was a judgment call.

"Sometimes you get oddball situations," tour official Angus Mackenzie said. "It was just one of those freaky things that happen."

"It has been handled poorly in my opinion," Moodie said. "I'm definitely for Christmas getting a rule book and reading it."

Mackenzie said the U.S. Golf Association would likely rewrite the rule for moving an insect off a ball in a sand trap.

Kim left immediately for an event this week in South Korea.

"She is really good at everything," Sinn, a fellow Korean, said of Kim.

Long-hitting rookie Marisa Baena of Colombia closed with a 72 and finished tied for fourth at 206 with Lori West, who had a 70. Eva Dahllof, who had a 67, Emilee Klein, who closed with a 72, tied at 9 under.

First-round co-leaders Karen Stupples and Tina Barrett both finished at 208 after closing with 74s.

Karen Golf Today's sponsored player on the LPGA tour faded after a poor first 9, however after an improved home 9 she rallied to finish 8th. Her best finish by far on the LPGA tour this year. In earning $19,304 she nearly trebled this seasons earnings and took a major step in securing her tour card for next year. She currently lies just below 125th place and as long as she makes the cut in her remaining events should automatically gain next seasons card without having to go through Q-school.


Golf Today/AP