Bri­tish win gives Park 4th dif­fer­ent ma­jor crown

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY STEVE DOU­GLAS

As I nbee Park hunted down JinY­oung Ko in the fi­nal stretch of the Women’s Bri­tish Open, it quickly be­came clear which South Korean was the rookie and which was the player about to add another chap­ter in golf’s record book.

The top-ranked Park picked up seven shots in her last 12 holes, pres­sured her 20-year-old pro­tege so much she fi­nally lost her nerve, and com­pleted a 7-un­der 65 at Turn­berry to cap­ture the tro­phy she thought she may never win.

Park won by three shots on 12-un­der 276 for a sev­enth ma­jor ti­tle, be­com­ing just the sev­enth fe­male player to win four dif­fer­ent ma­jors — af­ter Louise Suggs, Mickey Wright, Pat Bradley, Juli Inkster, Karrie Webb and An­nika Soren­stam.

“I don’t know what else to go for now,” said Park, who has won six of the last 14 ma­jors to ce­ment her sta­tus as the best player of her gen­er­a­tion.

How about end­ing the de­bate about clinch­ing the so-called ca­reer Grand Slam?

The LPGA Tour is call­ing Park’s achieve­ment just that. How­ever, Park hasn’t won the France-based Evian Cham­pi­onship since it was given the sta­tus of a fifth ma­jor in 2013. She did win the Evian in 2012.

The Evian is staged next month, when Park can com­plete defini­tively what some are call­ing the “Su­per Slam.”

“I feel like I’ve won all the ma­jors in women’s golf,” Park said, at­tempt­ing to put a stop to the dis­cus­sion.

“Ev­ery ma­jor was very, very spe­cial to me. But to wrap it up with the Bri­tish Open is just much more spe­cial ... This is def­i­nitely the golfer’s most-wanted tro­phy.”

Ko is just at the start of her golf­ing jour­ney.

Play­ing her first ma­jor, her first tour­na­ment out­side Asia and with a tem­po­rary, lo­cally born cad­die giv­ing her ad­vice on ev­ery shot, Ko be­gan the last round tied for the lead and pulled three shots clear of a bunched-up chas­ing pack con­tain­ing Park af­ter a 20-foot putt for birdie on No. 10. She had al­ready ea­gled the par-3 No. 7 with a 25-foot putt and rolled in a birdie of sim­i­lar length at No. 8.

Her com­po­sure was stun­ning, con­sid­er­ing the un­charted ter­ri­tory she was in. Ko had never played links golf be­fore this week.

That was when Park made her move. She rolled in an ea­gle putt from 20 feet at No. 14 to close to within one shot, Ko missed a par putt on No. 13 soon af­ter for her first bo­gey of the day, and Park then holed a 4-footer for birdie at No. 16 to take the lead for the first time this tour­na­ment.

No. 16 wound up be­ing the de­cid­ing hole. Twenty min­utes later, Ko’s chances of re­claim­ing the lead vir­tu­ally ended on that par 4 when she pushed her ap­proach shot straight into a burn. She took her fur-lined puffy coat from her cad­die and looked a beaten woman for the first time this week.

“I was a lit­tle over-think­ing, and then I was a lit­tle bit ner­vous,” Ko said.

Park’s birdie putt on No. 18 lipped out, but it didn’t mat­ter. She watched on a mon­i­tor in the scor­ing hut as Ko — play­ing two groups be­hind — failed to make birdie on No. 17, en­sur­ing there would be no fi­nal-hole ten­sion.

“I re­ally thought she was go­ing to play re­ally good un­til the end,” Park said of her friend. “I just got lucky.”

A turn­ing point came on No. 12 when Park drove right, into thick rough. Park could barely see the ball when she ap­proached it, but had a stroke of luck as it had set­tled on a drain. She was given a free drop and made par.

“That was a def­i­nite bo­gey there,” Park said.

Park said she needed to pro­duce her best dis­play of putting in two years to over­haul Ko, who is the latest on a con­veyor belt of tal­ent com­ing from the South Korean tour.

Ko was bid­ding to be­come the third first-time ma­jor win­ner from South Korea in the last five ma­jors, af­ter Hy­oJoo Kim at the Evian last year and In- Gee Chun at the U. S. Women’s Open last month.

“They are ma­chines,” Amer­i­can player Cristie Kerr said of South Korean golfers. “They prac­tice 10 hours a day.”

The 27-year-old Park is the sec­ond-youngest player to win the four tra­di­tional ma­jors. Webb was 26 when she com­pleted the haul in 2001.

Park passed US$12 mil­lion in ca­reer earn­ings with the win­ner’s check of US$450,000.

The 18-year-old Ly­dia Ko was seek­ing to be­come the youngest ma­jor win­ner, beat­ing the record of Mor­gan Pres­sel by seven months. She was three shots be­hind her name­sake Ko, only to take two shots out of the green­side bunker at No. 12 and make a dou­ble-bo­gey.

She shot 69 and tied for third on 8 un­der with So Yeon Ryu (68).

AP

In­bee Park of South Korea poses with the tro­phy af­ter win­ning the Women’s Bri­tish Open golf cham­pi­onship at the Turn­berry golf course in Turn­berry, Scot­land, Sun­day, Aug. 2.

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