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Park Survives Marathon Sunday & Gets Second Straight Major of the Year
Inbee Park endured 39 holes Sunday on a tough golf course, but managed to win the LPGA Championship for her second straight major title of the year and cement her place as the No. 1-ranked female golfer in the world.
Because rain washed out Thursday's first round at Locust Hill Golf Club in Pittsford, N.Y., officials began the tournament on Friday, with the second round Saturday.
So the players faced 36 holes Sunday to determine the champion. And it wasn't easy for Park, or Scotland's Catriona Matthew.
The 24-year-old South Korean closed with rounds of 68 and 75 to tie the 43-year-old Matthew (73, 68) in regulation at 5-under 283. The two forged on. After both parred the first sudden-death hole - the 18th - and the second - the 10th, both par-4s, they returned to the 18th.
On the third extra hole - their 39th of the day, Matthew, who on the previous hole managed to get up and down after a wayward drive, again missed the fairway with her tee shot. The 2009 Women's British Open wasn't so lucky this time as she was forced to hack out of the deep rough short of the green, while Park found the putting surface in regulation.
While Matthew couldn't make par - ending up with a bogey on her card, Park calmly sank a 16-foot birdie try for the win, her fourth overall of the year. In April, Park won the Kraft Nabisco Championship and has taken both majors so far this season on the LPGA Tour.
"It was one of the toughest days," Park said at greenside. "I actually felt lucky to get into the playoff. I finally hit three fairways in the playoff. It was a tough day . . . I'm so tired."
"To play well and get into the playoffs was obviously pretty good," Matthew said later. "Obviously when you get into it, it's pretty disappointing but overall pretty good week."
Sharing third at 4-under were Norway's Suzann Pettersen, who closed with rounds of 74 and 65, and Morgan Pressel. Pressel began Sunday with a two-stroke lead after opening with rounds of 68 and 70. She maintained the lead through 54 holes after a 71 in the morning. But the 25-year-old Floridian closed with a disappointing 3-over 75 in the afternoon to miss the playoff by a stroke.
"I'm definitely disappointed, but it's the first time in a long time I've contended, so I'm happy with the way that I played this week as a whole," Pressel, who hasn't won since 2008, told reporters. "I had chances. Nothing went in. And that happens."
Sharing fifth at 3-under 285 were fourth South Koreans - Amy Yang (74, 70), Chella Choi (73, 72), Sun Young Yoo (70, 73) and Jiyai Shin (69, 75).
China's Shanshan Feng (72, 70), American Michelle Wie (two 71s) and South Korea's Na Yeon Choi (70, 74) ended up tied for ninth at 2-under 286.
The win for Park was worth $337,500. She'll be going for a third straight major title June 27-30 at the U.S. Women's Open at Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y.
The LPGA Tour has five majors this year; the final two include the Women's British Open in August (on the Old Course at St. Andrews) and The Evian (at Evian Masters Golf Club in France).
For all the scores, visit www.lpga.com.
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