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S.Y. Kim pulls away from Lexi to win Marathon Classic

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Sei Young Kim joined elite company winning the Marathon Classic Sunday.

Her ninth LPGA title equals Na Yeon Choi as fourth most among Koreans.

Only Se Ri Pak (25), Inbee Park (19) and Jiyai Shin (11) have won more.

“I’m very happy to win, especially this tournament, because Marathon has a lot of history,” Kim said.

With five birdies in the middle of her round, Kim pulled away from Lexi Thompson in their head-to-head duel at Highland Meadows Golf Club outside Toledo, Ohio.

“She played some amazing golf,” Thompson said. “There was a stretch there, mid-round, where she stuck every shot.

“Had under 5 feet [for birdie] about four times in a row. So, it was a very well-deserved win by her.”

Full-field scores from the Marathon Classic

One shot ahead of Thompson at day’s start, Kim stretched her lead to five making the turn to the back nine.

Birdies at the seventh, eighth, ninth, 10th and 11th holes helped Kim hold off a late bid by Thompson. Kim was still five shots ahead with two holes to play, giving her a comfortable margin with Thompson closing with a birdie at the 17th and eagle the 18th.

With a 6-under 65, Kim ended up 22-under overall, two shots ahead of Thompson (66).

Thompson now has one victory and three runner-up finishes in her last five starts. She’ll play the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational next week with Cristie Kerr as her teammate before going overseas to play back-to-back majors at the Evian Championship and the AIG Women’s British Open.

“Definitely helps my confidence,” Thompson said.

Kim is among such a deep lineup of Korean winners playing the LPGA, she probably doesn’t get the full credit she deserves. She hasn’t won a major championship yet, or ascended to world No. 1, but Kim showed just how formidable she is beating Rolex world No. 4 Thompson in their head-to-head matchup. Kim started Sunday ranked No. 12 in the world.

This was Kim’s second title this year. She was the LPGA’s Rookie of the Year in 2015 and has won each of her first five seasons on tour.

The victory keeps South Korea’s dominance of yet another LPGA season going. The Koreans have now won nine of the 19 LPGA events staged this year. Thompson was trying to win her second title this year, the third overall for the Americans.