GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP, N.J. -- When In-Kyung Kim tapped in her final putt on Sunday at the ShopRite LPGA Classic, it marked the conclusion of an event that was as much an endurance test as it was a golf tournament.
When play began Sunday, a half-dozen players had a legitimate chance to win. But one by one, they fell by the wayside, and at day's end, it was Kim who claimed the victory after a final round that took the leaders just under five hours to complete.
The South Korean finished with a 2-under-par 69 on the Bay Course at Stockton Seaview Resort and Golf Club to complete 54 holes at 11-under 202. It was the fifth LPGA victory for Kim, who turns 29 on June 13. Her last win came in China in October 2016.
Two-time defending champion Anna Nordqvist of Sweden also closed with a 69 to finish alone in second place at 204.
Michelle Wie shot up the leaderboard early in the day with a 65 to finish at 206 and share third place with Jenny Shin of South Korea, American Jacqui Concolino and Jeong Eun Lee of South Korea. They posted rounds of 69, 70, and 71, respectively.
American Paula Creamer, who started the day tied for the lead with Kim, shot a 74 and wound up tied for seventh at 207 with Gabby Lopez of Mexico, who shot a 67; Moriya Jutanugarn from Thailand, who signed for a 72; and Americans Jaye Marie Green and Mo Martin, who shot 66 and 69, respectively.
Kim, who played with Creamer and Juntanugarn in the final group, completed a steady final round over a golf course that played to 6,217 yards.
She took the lead by herself for the first time with a birdie at No. 4 before making the turn at 10 under. She birdied the 10th to open a two-shot lead. But after the group hit their tee shots at the par-3 11th, they were informed that they were being put on the clock. They remained on the clock for four holes.
"We were a little slow," Kim said. "We were on the clock on the tricky holes. I had to rush one time. The (yardage) I had was 150, and I hit 170 club. My caddie was like, 'What are you doing?' I was rushing. My caddie helped a lot. I just asked him how much to carry after that."
Nordqvist, who was trying to become the first player to win this event three years in succession, started two shots off the pace and played her first nine at 1 under. Back-to-back birdies at Nos. 10 and 11 brought her to 10 under and within one shot of the lead.
However, Kim extended the margin when she birdied the par-4 12th. Although Kim lost a shot with a bogey at 14, Nordqvist never shared the lead again. She faltered at the 15th when she hit a 5-iron over the green to the 198-yard par 3, then hit a bad chip shot that led to a bogey and dropped her two shots behind. She also failed to convert a series of makeable birdie putts down the stretch.
"Fifteen kind of killed us," Nordqvist said. "Hitting way too much club and being over the green and not the best of lies. They've all been coming out bad, and came jumping forward.
"Feel like I had a good putt on ... 16 and 17, but just got a little mucky. Got in between yardages on both 16 and 18, but I was in contention and I'm happy."
Creamer, who almost won this tournament 13 years ago as an amateur, was one shot off the lead when she made the turn. Back-to-back bogeys at 11 and 12 and a third at the 14th took her out of contention.
"You just can't shoot over par on Sundays," she said, "that's for sure."
Creamer said being on the clock was distracting.
"We just couldn't get a rhythm, especially with some of these pins and the wind and everything," she said. "It's all happening so fast and you kind of can't regroup and I didn't do a very good job of that. But I fought hard, I kept grinding away out there."
NOTES: In-Kyung Kim became the LPGA's 13th different winner this year through the tour's first 13 events. ... U.S. Solheim Cup captain Juli Inkster shot a 2-under-par 69 on Sunday to finish at par 213, tied for 46th. Inkster has played in the tournament 27 times. She won the inaugural edition of what was then the Atlantic City LPGA Classic and captured the title again two years later. Inkster turns 57 on June 24.