HALF MOON BAY, California (AP) - Paula Creamer calmly won her biggest U.S. LPGA Tour victory yet, holding off a large pack in the Samsung World Championship on Sunday.
Playing near her hometown of Pleasanton, the 22-year-old Creamer beat Kim Song-hee by a stroke, closing with a bogey-free 3-under 69 for a 9-under 279 total.
Creamer earned $250,000 (euro181,000) for her fourth title of the year and eighth overall, going the final 37 holes of the tournament without a bogey.
On No. 18, Creamer holed a 5-foot par putt that rolled around the right lip of the cup and in. She dropped her putter, and raised both arms with a huge smile across her face as Kim waited nearby for a possible playoff.
Creamer then jumped into a warm embrace with caddie Colin Cann.
Kim finished with a 68 for her fifth top-five finish of the year.
She was busy signing autographs near the scoring tent when her coach told her there might be a playoff.
"I didn't know that,'' Kim said. "I was hoping for that.''
Two-time defending champion Lorena Ochoa shot a 69 to tie for third at 7 under with Juli Inkster (68), Suzann Pettersen (68) and Angela Stanford (70).
Ochoa birdied No. 16 to pull within a stroke of the lead at 7 under, then Inkster birdied moments later and also moved to 7 under.
Ochoa was trying to become the first player to win three straight Samsungs and capture her eighth title of 2008 and second in two weeks after a victory last week in Prattville, Alabama.
She birdied three straight holes - Nos. 8-10 - to get to 6 under.
Now, Ochoa will look for another strong finish next week at nearby Danville in a second consecutive tour event in Northern California.
Five-time Samsung champion Annika Sorenstam finished her final appearance in this event at 3-over 291 after a 70.
She tossed a ball into the crowd after her round, then signed her share of autographs.
Pettersen eagled the par-5 eighth and followed with a pair of birdies to stay in contention.
The Norwegian is still searching for first victory of 2008 after winning five times in 2007, including at the Longs Drugs Challenge event to be played at Danville next week.
After Kim moved into a share of the lead by chipping in from 20 feet for birdie on No. 14 - the first time all day Creamer wasn't alone out front - Creamer made a long birdie putt on 15 to retake control.
Creamer became the first American to win four times in a single season since Inkster had five victories in 1999.
Creamer won with another consistent performance in the elite 20-player field on a spectacular day on the Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links.
Creamer's parents and dozens of supporters cheered her from the large gallery following her all week.
She has said she feels added pressure playing back home, but also was committed to keeping her cool and not letting one or two bad holes affect her day or her focus after she struggled to control her emotions on Friday.
Kim, a 20-year-old having a breakout season and one of eight South Koreans in the field, matched her career-best finish of second.
She also was runner-up at the Corona Championship in Mexico in April.
Yet Kim said she needs to work on improving her conditioning going into 2009 to stay near the top of the leaderboard or to win her first championship.
"Going in yesterday I didn't have a great feel for my shots, so I was a little worried going into the round today,'' Kim said through a translator.
"I had some opportunities but I wasn't able to convert all of them, so I'm a little frustrated.''