THOMPSONVILLE — Two days after her 25th birthday, Inhong Lim gave herself a gift.
And what a gift it turned out to be.
Lim sank an eight-foot putt for birdie in a playoff to grab the 2013 Michigan PGA Women’s Open championship — her first professional title — on Wednesday at Crystal Mountain Resort.
Lim, who finished at 4-under par 212, came from four strokes back in the last seven holes to tie Corie Hou and force the extra hole, where she emerged victorious for the first time in her three-year professional career.
“I feel great,” said Lim, a former player at Ohio State, but a native of Korea. “I turned 25 on Monday so it was a great birthday present for myself. I’m just happy to be here.”
Lim entered the final round one shot off the lead at 3-under par, but like everyone else in the field, couldn’t match Hou’s blistering front nine. Hou recorded five birdies to go from four shots off the lead to a commanding spot atop the leaderboard.
“I was draining putts,” said Hou. “It was one of those days. I would just get on the green and I could see the line from anywhere. They were dropping.”
Hou, who was the captain of her golf team at the University of Hawaii, moved to 6-under par with another birdie on No. 11, but while she bogeyed 15 and 17, Lim played bogey-free golf on the back nine and managed to get birdies on No. 12 and No. 16.
“On 15 I was just hanging on the edge to make my par putt,” said Hou. “I was just waiting for it to drop. I went a bit long because I was coming out of the rough again. Then, on 17, I thought I hit a good chip, but I was short right. It’s pretty inclined with that pin. I just didn’t hit it hard enough, then my putt lipped out. I suppose I could’ve held my nerves together in the last five holes. It all comes down to experience.”
That included the playoff, the first one Hou had ever played. Lim, meanwhile, had a few playoffs under her belt.
“I had very good confidence going into the playoff hole,” said Lim. “I birdied that hole two out of three so I was very confident going into that hole and I know where the hole is now.”
Hou was two groups ahead of Lim and had to wait to see if she would be able to hold on to her lead. Actually, she was hoping the match would come down to a playoff so she could get the experience of playing under those conditions.
“Going into the playoff I had 15 minutes, may 20 minutes, after I finished just to kind of wind down a bit,” said Hou, an Australia resident. “So I was pretty calm going into the playoff. It was kind of exciting really.”
Erica Popson and Rachael Schmidt finished 2-under 214. Milena Savich, who led after each of the first two rounds, was 4-over par on Wednesday and ended up tied for seventh.
Midland’s Kimberly Dinh, a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin, was the top Michigan player as well as the top amateur finisher. Dinh was sixth with a 1-under par 215.