Former number one Park In-bee grabs first LPGA win of season
South Korean ends drought thanks to course record-equalling 10-under par 61
Park In-bee, motivated by her fall from the top of the world rankings, stormed to her first LPGA title of 2014 at the Manulife Financial Classic on Sunday.
The South Korean star had 10 birdies in a course record-equalling 10-under par 61 on the Grey Silo Golf Course, erasing a two-stroke overnight deficit to win by three strokes with a 23-under par total of 261.
“It never gets old,” said Park, whose course record-equalling round was a career-low. “Obviously, my last win on the LPGA Tour was about this time a year ago – and it sure felt longer than a year.
“I came close a few times, but I couldn’t hold the trophy since last year so just really happy that I finally got that done.”
Park’s drought had put her number one ranking in jeopardy for weeks, and American Stacy Lewis finally supplanted her with a victory last Sunday.
“Yeah, you think I’m motivated now?” Park said with a laugh.
“Yeah, I think definitely. I really kick-started [my season] maybe the last week. Gave me some kind of motivation to go lower and harder on myself.”
Park trailed China’s Feng Shanshan by two strokes going into the round.
Feng had four birdies and a bogey in her three-under 68, just not enough to hold off the charging Park.
American veteran Cristie Kerr who slipped past her for second place with a 63 for 264.
Feng finished in solo third on 18-under 266, with New Zealand teenager Lydia Ko (66) sharing fourth on 268 with Spain’s Belen Mozo (65).
Park took the lead with back-to-back birdies at the seventh and eighth, her fourth and fifth of the day. Her five birdies coming in included three in a row from the 12th.
“Seems like I put my putter behind the ball and it just went in the hole,” Park said. “It’s just one of those days where I don’t really need to try hard to make it go in.”
Her success on the greens was especially welcome, since Park had pointed to putting woes as a factor keeping her out of the winner’s circle after six triumphs – three of them major championships – in 2013.
“The putter is definitely the key,” she said. “I’ve been hitting the ball consistently all year, just my putter’s just not been wanting to do its job.”
She has regained her touch with her title defence at the US Women’s Open coming up in two weeks at Pinehurst.
Park’s US Open triumph at Sebonack Golf Club last year gave her a third major title of 2013 – although she wasn’t able to add an historic fourth at the British Open.
This year the US Women’s Open is the second major on the women’s calendar, after the Kraft Nabisco Championship, with the move of the LPGA Championship from June to August.