After Recari and Kim three-putted No. 18 both in regulation and on the first playoff hole, Recari ended it for her first victory since her rookie season of 2010. The 25-year-old Spaniard raised her right fist in celebration just before the ball rolled in then, raised both arms in the air.
She later put her hands to her face and wiped away tears as her caddie boyfriend, Andreas Thorp, put his arm around her.
Recari, who brought a two-stroke lead into the day, had a chance to win in regulation. But, like Kim in the twosome ahead of her, she three-putted the par-4 18th. Recari closed with a 2-over 74 to match Kim at 9 under at Aviara. Kim shot a 71.
They teed off on 18 again and both players three-putted. With dusk falling, they played the hole again.
Kim had a 30-foot putt on the second playoff hole and rolled it left before Recari made the winner.
Recari went 59 holes before carding her first bogey in the tournament.
Kim bogeyed four of her last eight holes in regulation. A South Korean player, now based in Rancho Santa Fe, won the last of her three LPGA Tour titles in 2010.
Cristie Kerr, Pornanong Phatlum and Mo Martin tied for third, a stroke out of the playoff. First-round leader Jane Park was another stroke back along with Lizette Salas and Hall of Famer Karrie Webb.
Stacy Lewis, playing for the first time as the world's No. 1 ranked player, was in a group of four at 6 under after closing with a 73. She was coming off consecutive victories in Singapore and Phoenix.
Paula Creamer, who started the day three shots off the lead, had five straight bogeys in her final-round 77.
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