Monday, June 14, 2021

Park wins Champions tournament with putting masterclass


tiamin rice

Park In-Bee of South Korea kisses the trophy after winning the HSBC Women’s Champions golf tournament at the Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore on March 5, 2017.

South Korea’s Park In-Bee produced a putting masterclass to win the LPGA’s Women’s Champions tournament Sunday after overnight leader Michelle Wie blew her chances when she four-putted for double bogey.

Park shot a superb final round of eight-under 64 to finish at 19-under 269 and capture her first title since her gold medal at last year’s Rio Olympics.

Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand finished second at 18-under after closing with a 66 while rising South Korean star Park Sung-Hyun was third on 16-under after a final-round 68.

Wie led by two strokes after birdieing the third and fourth holes but lost her place at the top of the leaderboard when she four-putted from within 12 feet for a double-bogey 7 on the par-5th.

The American closed with a 72 to finish tied for fourth at 14-under alongside Canada’s Brooke Henderson (66) and last year’s winner Jang Ha-Na (69).

The world number one Lydia Ko also shot 72 in her last round to end up in joint ninth.

Park was playing just her second tournament after taking a six-month break to recover from a thumb injury. But she showed no signs of rustiness as she reeled off nine birdies in 13 holes between the 5th and 17th holes to open up a decisive gap over a star-studded field featuring 19 of the world’s top 20 players.

The seven-time major winner knocked in an astonishing sequence of long putts, including one from almost 30 feet on the 17th that proved decisive, to capture her 27th professional title, her 18th on the LPGA Tour and her second in Singapore.

She made her only bogey of the day on the 18th when she hit her approach into a greenside bunker, but still managed to break the course record at the new Tanjong layout at the Sentosa Golf Club.

“My putting was amazing today, obviously,” Park said. “Yesterday I was really disappointed with my putter. I couldn’t make any putts yesterday and obviously I made up for it today.

“Pretty much everything I looked at wanted to drop in.”

Jutanugarn, the world number two and reigning British Women’s Open champion, was level with Park after 10 holes but could not match the South Korean’s hot run on the back nine.

“I had so much fun playing playing with In-Bee. She’s awesome. She’s the best player,” said Jutanugarn.

“I learnt a lot from her. She’s very calm. I feel like she makes every putt. I don’t think she missed one today.”

Park, playing in the penultimate group with Jutanugarn and Jang, had to endure a longer than expected wait before receiving her winner’s trophy when play was halted just moments after she finished her round.

Organisers ordered play to be stopped because of lightning in the area, with just the final grouping of Sung, Wie and Ko still on the course but out of contention.

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