South Korea's Inbee Park defeated Scotland's Catriona Matthew on the third playoff hole to win the 2013 Wegmans LPGA Championship at Locust Hill.
South Korea’s Inbee Park solidified her spot as the top-ranked women’s golfer in the world on Sunday, surviving a grueling 39 holes on the final day to win the 2013 Wegmans LPGA Championship at Locust Hill Country Club.
Park carded a 68 in round three and a 75 in round four to finish with a 72 hole score of 283, tied with Scotland’s Catriona Matthew who closed with a 73-68 in the final two rounds. Each player recorded a par on the first two playoff holes (18, then 10) before Park made birdie to Matthew’s bogey on their fourth attempt of the day on the finishing hole.
The win makes two major championships in a row for Park, and three for her career. She won the Kraft Nabisco Championship earlier this year and her win at Locust Hill makes her the seventh player to win the first two major championships of a season on the LPGA tour. With players forced to play two rounds on Sunday due to inclement weather for the tournament’s opening round it was not only a battle against the course but a struggle against fatigue.
“Today was one of the most demanding days of my career,” said Park after the win. “I am so tired.”
Finishing one shot our of the playoff was Morgan Pressel, the highest finisher from the United States, and Norway’s Suzann Pettersen, who closed out Sunday with a seven-under par 65 - the best round of the tournament. Pressel had an opportunity to get to five under on the par-5 17th but was unable to make birdie after reaching the green in two.
Despite only hitting six fairways in the final round Park came through when it counted in the playoff. After Matthew missed the fairway on the third playoff hole Park put one center cut, then hit within 20 feet of the pin on her approach after Matthew punched out from the right rough, across the fairway, and into the left rough. Matthew’s chip shot - from rough up to her ankles - also came up short, and after she chipped her fourth shot onto the green Park stepped up and drained the birdie put to secure the victory.
Park has won four events in 11 starts this season, and in her last 22 events she has finished first or second an astonishing 50 percent of the time. She ranks first on the 2013 money list with $1,221,827, has earned over 3.3 million in the last calendar year and sits 25th on the all-time money list with $6,489,551 in career earnings.
Pressel held a two-stroke lead after 36 holes. She was tied with Park at -7 after the front nine of the final round but was unable to make a birdie on the back nine, finishing one stroke out of the playoff.
“I had some chances out there but nothing went in,” said Pressel, who was seeking her first win since 2008. “This is the first time in a long time I have contended, and I am happy with the way I played this week.”
Park becomes the ninth consecutive Asian born player to win a major championship on the LPGA tour. Korean players have won the last four majors (two by Park, one by Jiyai Shin and one by Na Yeon Choi), with Stacy Lewis the last American born player to win a major back in 2011.
Finishing behind Park, Matthew, Pettersen and Pressel at -3 was a group of four Korean players, including Jiyai Shin. Last year’s Wegmans LPGA winner Shanshan Feng (China) finished in a tie for ninth at -2 with Michelle Wie and Na Yeon Choi.
“I didn’t hit many fairways today, but I was getting up-and-down really well,” added Park. “I feel lucky to win.”
Pittsford resident Danah Bordner carded rounds of 73 and 76 on Sunday to finish in a tie for 33rd, 10 strokes back. Park will look to make it three major championships in a row at the U.S. Women’s Open, to be held June 27-30 at Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, New York. This year marks the first season the LPGA will host five major championships after hosting four for the previous 31 years.