South Korea's Kim caught fire on the back nine, making birdie on four straight holes from the 14th through the 17th to reach 14-under 196 at the Pelican Golf Club in Florida. McDonald bogeyed the 16th to fall five shots back, and her finishing birdie at the 18th, combined with Kim's bogey, didn't affect the outcome.
Second ranked Kim and McDonald are both breakthrough winners in their last starts. "Just kept my cool on my front nine, the back nine, and was able to make some birdies coming in, which was nice". She closed strong, with three birdies on her final four holes.
Kim's round was marked by solid driving and putting: She hit 12 of 14 fairways (12 of 18 greens) and took just 30 putts on Sunday. "My friends put it on my head and then my T-shirt and everything", Kim was quoted as saying on the LPGA website.
"You know, in [Wednesday's] pro-am I had a good nine holes if you can even, I don't know, rate that at all", Popov said.
The 4-over 214 pushed the Pagdanganan to a tie at the 40th spot, six strokes out of the Top 10.
Kim, who had three birdies and three bogeys Sunday, also leads the Player of the Year points race with 106. Kim has broken a tie with Shin Ji-yai, former world No. 1 who has left the LPGA Tour to compete on the Japanese tour. Despite the LPGA Tour's postponement of the season due to the coronavirus, this is already Kim's second win.
The tournament brings the LPGA back to the Tampa area for the first time since the 1989 St. Petersburg Women's Open.
The South Korean, who won the most recent major - last month's Women's PGA Championship - hit a third-round 64 to take a five-shot advantage into the final round. "Obviously following a win to get another second and be in contention, that's all I can ask for". "So when I play, standing on the golf course, it feels very happy when I walk on".
"I was just trying to be feeling the same as my last tournament", said the world No 2. "Keep going", she said, adding that the lack of wind after three gusty days made for a tough adjustment.
After her major win, Kim returned to South Korea to spend some time with her family.
There was a brief stumble with a bogey five on the par-four second, McDonald's 11th hole, but the 28-year-old from MS recovered to pick up her fifth birdie on the par-five seventh. In the 2019 season, she once again picked up three wins which included the season-finale, the CME Group Tour Championship.
U.S. Womens Open champion Jeongeun Lee6, also making her return to the LPGA Tour, had a double bogey and two bogeys in a 73. She didn't have to wait long. So I changed my goal to be the world No. 1.