The Sunday Post (Dundee)
A walk in the Park as Inbee swoops
SOUTH KOREA’S Inbee Park claimed the first Olympic gold in women’s golf since 1900 as Britain’s Charley Hull came up short in her bid for a medal.
Park carded a closing 66 at Reserva de Marapendi to finish 16-under-par, five shots clear of world No. 1 Lydia Ko, who birdied the last to claim silver ahead of China’s Shanshan Feng.
Japan’s Harukyo Nomura, American Stacy Lewis and South Korea’s Hee Young Yang shared fourth place on nine-under, with Hull tied for seventh another shot back alongside Canada’s Brooke Henderson and Australia’s Minjee Lee.
“This is definitely one of the special moments in my golfing career and in my whole life,” Park said. “It feels great. Obviously representing your country, winning the gold, it’s so special. It’s just really all I’ve wanted. I’m just happy.”
Seven-time major champion Park had not broken par on the LPGA Tour since April as she battled a ligament injury in her left thumb.
“A lot of people were saying that maybe it’s better to have another player in the field, which was very understandable. But I really wanted to do well this week and show a lot of people I can still play,” Park added.
“I knew I could compete out here, but a lot of people were doubting. I fought through injury and so I’m proud of myself.”
Park took a two-shot lead into the final round and was six clear after a hat-trick of birdies from the third and another on the eighth, before Feng closed the gap with a birdie on 10.
And when Park bogeyed the 10th after pulling her tee shot into the water as Feng birdied the 11th in the group ahead, the gap was down to just three shots heading into the toughest part of the course.
However, Park quickly regained her composure and birdies on the 13th, 15th and 17th sealed victory and saw the focus switch to the tense battle for silver and bronze.
Feng set the target on 10 under after a closing 69, but was left to regret three-putting the 18th for par from just short of the green, leaving the door open for Ko in the group behind.
And after driving the green on the short 16th to set up a two-putt birdie, the 19-year-old New Zealander pitched to seven feet on the 18th and saw her birdie putt catch the left edge of the hole and drop into the cup.
Hull was within a shot of the bronze medal position after a birdie on the 11th, but three-putted the 13th and was unable to pick up any shots until a two-putt birdie on the 18th.
“I was quite happy with the way I finished,” the 20-year-old said after a final round of 68. “I hit a great shot into the last and could have raced that eagle putt a little bit more. I left it a little bit short.
“But I’m happy. Especially on the back nine I gave myself plenty of opportunities, I just didn’t hole them. I missed one short putt which is a bit silly but apart from that I feel like my game is in good shape.
“My first Olympics was a fantastic experience and I got a buzz off it.”
Hull’s team-mate Catriona Matthew carded a closing 70 to finish 29th, with Ireland’s Leona Maguire tied for 21st after a 69 and team-mate Stephanie Meadow 31st following a 72.