|Park wins US Women’s Open for 3rd straight major|
|Monday, July 01, 2013 12:03 AM|
SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. — Inbee Park set many golfing goals. Etching her name alongside Babe Zaharias was never one of them.
Yet now they’re the only two players to win the first three majors of the year. Park became the first to accomplish the feat in the modern era Sunday with her second U.S. Women’s Open title.
“Trying to put my name next to hers means just so much,” Park said. “I would think I would never get there; it’s somewhere that I’ve never dreamed of. But all of a sudden, I’m there.”
The world’s top-ranked player finished at 8 under to win by four strokes. Her 2-over 74 in the final round was more than enough, with Sebonack’s trying conditions keeping any rivals from making a run. Only three players were under par for the tournament.
Fellow South Korean I.K. Kim also shot 74 for her second runner-up finish at a major.
Zaharias won the year’s first three majors in 1950 — back when there were only three. Now there are five, so Grand Slam might not quite be the right term if Park wins all of them.
Ahead by four strokes at the start of the round, Park birdied the ninth and 10th holes to extend her lead. She has won six times already this year, including three straight tournaments. Park added to another historic U.S. Women’s Open victory in 2008, when she became the event’s youngest champion at age 19.
“I didn’t know what was going on at that time,” Park added. “I played very good golf then but I didn’t know what I was playing for, and that was just my first win. It was a great championship then but now I think I really appreciate more and I really know what this means.”
So Yeon Ryu shot 72 to finish third at 1 under. South Korean players took the top three spots and have won the last five majors.
Ryu and Na Yeon Choi, the last two U.S. Women’s Open champs, sprayed Park with champagne after she made her final putt on the 18th green.
With lashing wind and devilish greens, Sebonack was a classically troublesome U.S. Women’s Open course. And once Park built a lead, nobody could mount a charge.
She certainly wasn’t going to make enough mistakes to come back to the field. Park had just 10 bogeys and no double bogeys in four rounds.
All of four players were under par Sunday — though that was still more than the third round, when only Park achieved it.
Kim birdied No. 2 to pull within three strokes; she couldn’t claw closer. And when she bogeyed the fourth hole, the deficit was back to four shots.
Park bogeyed the sixth and seventh but so did Kim.
Kim had what would have qualified as a sensational week if not for Park, finishing at least three strokes better than everyone but the player currently dominating the sport.
This was Kim’s fourth top-four finish at a U.S. Women’s Open but she’s still seeking her first major title. She was a foot away last year at the Kraft Nabisco, then missed a short putt on No. 18 that would have clinched the championship and went on to lose in a playoff.
Asked if she feels she’s on the verge of a major breakthrough, Kim paused for a moment, then replied: “Yeah, to be honest, yeah, it’s time to win it. But I think things have to come naturally and it’s great to play with Inbee and she’s doing so well. Seeing her doing it, it just makes me want it more.”
Americans Paula Creamer (72) and Angela Stanford (74) and England’s Jodi Ewart Shadoff (76) tied for fourth at 1 over. Shadoff was alone in third at 3 under after the third round but opened Sunday with three straight bogeys.
Soon-to-be Oklahoma State player Casie Cathrea shot 70 on Sunday to match Shanshan Feng for the best round of the day and finish as the low amateur at 9 over. Lydia Ko, the 16-year-old New Zealander who won the Canadian Open last August to become the youngest LPGA Tour winner, was next at 11 over.
Park also became the second player to win the U.S. Women’s Open after victories in her previous two tournaments. Mickey Wright did it in 1964.
The 24-year-old Park won the Kraft Nabisco and LPGA Championship for her first two major titles of the year. Up next is the Women’s British Open at St. Andrews on Aug. 1-4.
The Evian Championship is Sept. 12-15. Park won the French event last year before it became a major championship.
BETHESDA, Md. — Bill Haas won the AT&T National and joined some distinguished company.
Haas pulled away from a crowd of contenders with three straight birdies, two key pars and one good hop out of the rough. It led to a 5-under 66 on a muggy day at Congressional and a 3-shot win over Roberto Castro.
As many as six players had a share of the lead at some point until Haas rolled in a 10-foot birdie putt on No. 8. Worried about a splotch of mud on his ball, he hit his approach to just inside 12 feet for birdie on the par-5 ninth, then hit a 5-iron to 10 feet for another birdie on the 10th.
Haas led by at least two shots the entire back nine, though he never allowed himself to think about winning until he stood over a 3-foot par putt on the 18th hole and realized he had three putts to win.
Haas has won at least one PGA Tour event in each of the last four years, joining Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose. And with a half-dozen players trying to win for the first time on tour, Haas kept a high pedigree of winner at the AT&T National. In the 7-year history of the tournament, Rose was the lowest-ranked player to win at No. 35 in 2010 at Aronimink. Haas, who finished at 12-under 272, entered the week 29th.
The 31-year-old won for the fifth time in his career and this was the first one with Tiger Woods on the property — not to play but to hand out the trophy. Woods sat out this week with an elbow injury and won’t play again until the British Open.
SENIOR PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP
PITTSBURGH — Kenny Perry won the Senior Players Championship for his first major title, overtaking Fred Couples with a final round 6-under 64.
Perry finished at 19-under 261 at Fox Chapel, two shots ahead of Couples and Duffy Waldorf. The 52-year-old Perry opened with a 71 and shot consecutive 63s in the next two rounds.
Perry was runner-up in the 1996 PGA Championship and 2009 Masters while playing as a regular on the PGA Tour. He tied for second in the Senior PGA Championship last month.
Couples closed with a 68, and Waldorf shot 64.
MAYNOOTH, Ireland — England’s Paul Casey made a 50-foot eagle putt on the 18th hole to win the Irish Open by three strokes for his 12th European Tour title.
Casey closed with a 5-under 67 to finish at 14-under 274 at Carton House. England’s Robert Rock and Dutchman Joost Luiten tied for second. Rock shot 71 and Luiten a 74.
NEWBURGH, Ind. — Billy Hurley III, Joe Affrunti, Ashley Hall and Ben Martin were tied at 11 under after regulation Sunday when darkness suspended play in the Web.com Tour’s United Leasing Championship.
They will return to Victoria National today for a sudden-death playoff.
Hurley and Affrunti were tied for the lead at 13 under with two holes to play but dropped back with double bogeys on the par-4 17th. Affrunti 4-putted the hole.
Hurley, the third-round leader, finished with an even-par 72 in the round that was delayed because of rain. Hall, from Australia, closed with a 66, Martin shot 67 and Affrunti a 70.
Canada’s Adam Hadwin finished fifth at 9 under after a 71.
HARRIS, Mich. — Kim Kaufman won the Island Resort Championship on Sunday for her first Symetra Tour title, beating Japan’s Mitsuki Katahira with a two-putt par on the first hole of a playoff.
Kaufman, the 6-foot former Texas Tech player from Clark, S.D., made 20-foot birdie putts on the final two holes in regulation for a 4-under 68 to match Katahira at 3-under 213 on the Sweetgrass course.
Kaufman won in her third start on the tour.
She earned $17,250 to jump from 60th to ninth on the money list at $20,986, with the final top 10 earning 2014 LPGA Tour cards.
Katahira closed with a 71. Jessi Gebhardt and Garrett Phillips tied for third at 1 under. Gebhardt finished with a 70 and Phillips shot 73.