WATERLOO, Ontario (AP) ― A week after losing the No. 1 ranking, Park In-bee found her putting touch.
Park won the Manulife Financial Classic on Sunday for her first LPGA Tour title in more than 11 months, matching the course record with a 10-under 61 for a three-stroke victory over Cristie Kerr.
“Definitely, the putter is definitely the key,” Park said. “I’ve been hitting the ball consistently all year, just my putter’s just not been wanting to do its job. This week, obviously, it did its job.”
Park finished at 23-under 261 at Grey Silo for her 10th tour title and first since the U.S. Women’s Open. Last week, Park’s 59-week run at No. 1 ended when Stacy Lewis won in New Jersey to take the top spot.
“I’ve got to say, definitely a little bit pressure off of me,” Park said. “At the same time, I think I needed a little bit of motivation. I just didn’t have any win after the U.S. Open. I was playing good but not great. So yeah, I think last week was a very good motivation and inspiration for me. So this week, I thought I needed to step it up a little bit.”
The 25-year-old South Korean player had only one bogey in 72 holes ― on the fourth hole in the first round. On Sunday, she played the front nine in 5-under 31 and added birdies on Nos. 10, 12-14 and 18.
“I didn’t really think about the 59,” Park said. “All I thought about was just trying to bring that trophy home. I knew there was a lot of birdies and the way I played today everything seemed like it was trying to go in. Even if I didn’t make it, it was still close. It’s the first time I putted really well in a while, so I was really happy that my putter’s finally back.”
Park ended a 20-event tour winless streak. Last year, she swept the first three majors and finished the season with six victories. She also won a Ladies European Tour event three months ago in China.
After a week off, the tour will resume play June 19-22 with the U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst.
“Obviously, with the U.S. Open in two weeks, I think is a great confidence boost,” Park said. “I think it’s great timing.”
Kerr finished with a 63.
“I never looked at the scoreboard until I came off 17, with a reachable par 5 to see where I was,” Kerr said. “I was three back and I was stunned because I was 7 under for the day. You’d think you’d be close.
“But it was great, a great week. I did great with my focus. I played great. I can’t complain.”
China’s Shanshan Feng, two strokes ahead of Park and Michelle Wie entering the round, had a 68 to finish third at 18 under.
Lydia Ko and Belen Mozo tied for fourth at 16 under. The 17-year-old Ko closed with a 66, and Mozo shot 65.
Lewis and Wie followed at 15 under. Lewis had a 63, and Wie shot 69.
Ben Crane wins St. Jude Classic
MEMPHIS, Tennessee (AP) ― Ben Crane estimates he slept less than three hours in a night spent praying and thanking God that his game finally has come back around.
Then he played 30 holes Sunday in winning the St. Jude Classic for his first PGA Tour title since 2011, setting off a celebration that included hugging his caddie and high-fiving a reporter. Crane also choked back some tears as he looked at text messages filling his phone.
“Oh my gosh, it just keeps going,” Crane said, looking at his phone. “How many can a phone hold? This is so much fun.”
Crane closed with a 3-over 73 for a one-stroke victory, going wire to wire for his fifth career victory. Rain delays forced him into the marathon session Sunday at TPC Southwind, finishing 12 holes in the morning in a third-round 69 to take a three-shot lead into the final round.
He two-putted for bogey on the final hole to finish at 10-under 270, days after failing to qualify for the U.S. Open. That marked a low point for the 38-year-old player who spent the past six months reworking his swing to protect his back wondering if his career was over. He spent time with a coach picturing the right way to hit shots.
Everything clicked Thursday with an opening 63. “I did not expect the hole to open up like that and just start making putts from everywhere,” Crane said. “Just hit a lot of quality shots and obviously built a nice lead to start out with.”
Troy Merritt was second after a 71. Webb Simpson (65), Matt Every (70) and Carl Pettersson (69) were 8 under, and Ian Poulter had a 64 to tie for sixth at 7 under.
Merritt credited the best finish of his career to an improved short game.
“Ben played great,” Merritt said. “Hats off to him. Well deserved. He’s been struggling for a little while. Very happy for Ben.”
Phil Mickelson, among those tuning up for the U.S. Open at Pinehurst, left winless in his 20th event since the British Open. He tied for 11th at 6 under after a 72.
Consecutive birdies on Nos. 11 and 12 put Mickelson at 8 under. But he bogeyed the next two, including the par-3 14th where he hit a 7-iron into the water in front of the green.