SPORTS

Hot-shot Korean rookie posts best finish of LPGA season

By a2016032
  • Published : May 29, 2017 - 11:01
  • Updated : May 29, 2017 - 14:39
Hot-shot South Korean rookie Park Sung-hyun has posted her best finish of the LPGA Tour season.

Park finished tied for second at the LPGA Volvik Championship at Travis Pointe Country Club in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on Sunday (local time). After a bogey-free final round of six-under 66, Park ended her four-round play at 18-under 270, one stroke behind the champion, Feng Shanshan.
(Yonhap)

This was Park's fourth top-10 finish in nine starts this year.

The 23-year-old has yet to miss a cut in 2017.

Park had been one of the most dominant players on the Korea LPGA Tour (KLPGA), and she got her LPGA membership via an unusual route. Park only got into a handful of tournaments last year as a non-member but made enough money in those limited opportunities to qualify for full-time status for 2017.

Park, world No. 11, was the leader after two rounds, but only shot an even par round Saturday to fall into a tie for fourth, three shots behind Feng.

Park did her part to make up the ground by putting together a clean round -- two birdies on the front nine and four more on the back nine -- but Feng opened up a four-stroke lead through 15. Feng bogeyed two of her last three holes but had already given herself enough cushion.

Park said her performance was a major boost to her fragile confidence.

"I hadn't played well in events prior to this tournament, and I felt I'd lost a bit of confidence," Park said. "But I played well this time and got some of the confidence back. I think that was the biggest takeaway from this event."

This was Park's second tournament with her temporary caddie, Chris McCalmont, who replaced Colin Cann earlier this month after seven tournaments. Park finished tied for 43rd at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

Then later Monday, Park hired a new full-time caddie in David Jones.

Her Seoul-based agency, SEMA Sports Marketing, said Jones will pick up Park's bag starting at this week's ShopRite LPGA Classic in Galloway, New Jersey.

Jones has previously worked with two South Korean players: Choi Na-yeon from 2013 to 2015 and Chun In-gee in 2016. Jones was the caddie when Chun won last year's Evian Championship at 21-under, the lowest score in relation to par at a women's major tournament in history.

This year, Jones worked with Suzann Pettersen.

Park explained through her agency that she picked a caddie who could best bring out the aggressive side in her, saying she wanted "a veteran who has worked with long hitters."

She is currently second on the tour in average driving distance at 274.8 yards.

Park is the front-runner for the Rookie of the Year award. She leads the points race with 491, while Angel Yin of the United States is a distant second with 246 points. (Yonhap)