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Park Cruises to Third Straight Major
Though she carded her first over-par round of the championship, Inbee Park had no problem securing her third straight major title of 2013. The 24-year-old closed with a 2-over 74 at Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y., to finish at 8-under 280 and win the U.S. Women's Open.
Park, who began the final round with a four-stroke lead over I.K. Kim, carded two birdies and four bogeys Sunday, edging fellow South Koreans Kim, who also had a 74, by four strokes and So Yeon Ryu (72) by seven.
The Open victory pads Park's 2013 major total; she won the Kraft Nabisco in April and LPGA Championship in early June. It's also her second win in the U.S. Women's Open; her other was her first-ever LPGA victory, in 2008.
Park is the first player since the legendary Babe Didrikson Zaharias to win the season's first three major championships in women's golf. Zaharias set that mark in 1950 when there were only three major championships in women's golf.
The Open title was also Park's sixth victory of the year, further cementing her position as the No. 1-ranked player in the world. In addition to joining Zaharias with three consecutive majors at the start of the year, Park also ties the all-time LPGA mark of three major titles in a year held by Mickey Wright (1961) and Pat Bradley (1986).
After Park two-putted for par on the 18th hole, she raised her arms in triumph and was quickly surrounded by fellow South Korean pros, who splashed her with champagne. She then hugged her parents; it was her first major win attended by her father.
When asked at greenside whether the magnitude of potientially making history affected her during play, Park demurred, saying, "I was calm out there. I didn't feel much pressure on the golf course. But I was nervous last night."
She then added, "I'm very honored to put my name next to Babe Zaharias." Park tried to parry a question about her going for four straight majors, a record accomplished only by Wright (1961-62) and Tiger Woods (2001-01), over two seasons. No one has ever won four straight in the same year. "I don't know what I did today . . . it's scary what I can do," she said, eliciting laughter from the gallery.
The LPGA's next major is the Women's British Open August 1-4 at the Old Course at St. Andrews. The LPGA Tour has five annual majors, with the final one being the Evian Masters in France September 12-15.
Among the many players impressed with Park is World Golf Hall of Fame member Karrie Webb, who has seven majors to her credit. "I think I have a heartbeat. I don't know if Inbee has one," said the Aussie, who tied for 13th after shooting a 74.
"You can obviously feel for someone like I.K. Kim, who would be winning any other U.S. Open on this golf course if it weren't for Inbee. Sometimes it's just not good enough when someone is as hot as Inbee is."
Kim and Ryu were the only other players to finish under par through four rounds of the U.S. Women's Open. Sharing fourth at 1-over 289 were Americans Paula Creamer (72) and Angela Stanford (74) and England's Jodi Ewart Shadoff, who carded a 76.
Tied for seventh at 290 were a couple of Yanks, Brittany Lang (72) and Jessica Korda (73).
Three players broke par Sunday. China's Shanshan Feng and California amateur Casie Cathrea both shot 70s, while South Korea's Meena Lee had a 71.
Defending champion Na Yeon Choi - one of the players who ran onto the 18th green at Sebonack to spray champagne on Park - closed with a 75 and ended up tied for 17th at 295. After carding a 79 Saturday, 15-year-old New Zealand amateur Lydia Ko rebounded with an even-par 72 to finish at 11-over 299.
For all the scores, visit www.lpga.com.