Back-to-back majors for Inbee Park
World number one, Inbee Park, consolidated her position at the top of the Rolex Women’s Rankings with a three-hole playoff victory over Scotland’s Caatriona Matthew at the Wegmans LPGA Championship at Locust Hill Country Club on Sunday.
The 24-year old Korean has now claimed the first two majors of the 2013 season after winning the Kraft Nabisco Championship earlier this year, her 6th victory in 22 starts.
Inbee Park (Credit: www.golffile.ie)
Dominating as those statistics indicate, Park was certainly made to earn her 3rd career major as poor weather early in the week in the New York area resulted in players needing to play 36 holes on the final day.
Park was two strokes behind leader Morgan Pressel after two rounds but surged into the lead with a third round four-under 68.
However, she struggled with her normally laser-like accuracy in the final round and had to battle from the thick rough and trees on several occasions as Suzann Pettersen (65) at four-under, then Matthew (68) at five-under, set the clubhouse lead.
Leading Matthew by one, Park found the left rough on the final hole of regulation but could not advance the ball more than 40 yards before hitting a nine iron to the back fringe. She calmly two putted for bogey and a final round three-over 75 to fall back into a playoff with Matthew.
After both players parred the first two playoff holes, Matthew drove into the rough off the tee and advanced the ball into the rough again with her next two shots before chipping on well short of the hole.
Park in the meantime, found the fairway and hit her uphill approach to 18 feet.
With at least two putts for the championship, she only needed one after nursing her ball down the slope into the hole, earning $337,500 for the win and a hug from her Australian caddie, Brad Beecher.
“I didn’t know that I was going to be able to do it today,” said Park. “I was hitting the ball everywhere today on the final round.”
“It just made my day so much tougher. But just putting my name on the Wegmans LPGA championship trophy just means so much to me.”
Matthew earned $206,304 for her second place finish while Pressel and Pettersen tied for 3rd at four-under.
Victorian Sarah-Jane Smith was positioned well in a tie for 4th heading into the grueling 36 holes on Sunday but faded with 76-81 to finish T53rd, a shot clear of young Victorian Breanna Elliott who was competing in her first major.
Karrie was the best of the Australians tied for 33rd after a final round 70.
The LPGA takes a week’s break before heading to Arkansas followed by the U.S. Women’s Open at Sebonack Golf Club in New York in late June.