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Park In-bee wins Wegmans LPGA Championship for second straight major

(Yonhap News)
(Yonhap News)


Park In-bee captured the Wegmans LPGA Championship for her second straight major title in New York on Sunday.

The world No. 1-ranked female golfer defeated Catriona Matthew of Scotland in the sudden death playoff at the Locust Hill Country Club in Pittsford, New York.

On the third playoff hole, the par-4 18th, Park scored a birdie to beat Matthew for her seventh career LPGA win and her third major overall. Park claimed US$337,500 in the winner's check.

On the decisive hole, Park found the fairway off the tee and reached the green in two, setting up the clinching birdie putt. Matthew landed her drive in the rough right of the fairway. With her second shot, Matthew found more thick grass next to the green, and her ensuing chip only advanced a few yards, well short of the green.

This is already Park's fourth win of the 2013 season in her 11th start. She leads the LPGA Tour in wins, money and the points race for the Player of the Year honors.

In April, Park won the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the season's first major tournament. That victory catapulted the 24-year-old to the top spot in the women's world rankings, making her the second South Korean, after Shin Ji-yai, to be the No. 1 female golfer.

Park's latest title marked the fourth straight time that a South Korean has captured an LPGA major. Choi Na-yeon won the U.S. Women's Open last July, followed by Shin at the Ricoh Women's British Open. Then Park has won the first two majors of this year.

Park and Matthew ended the regulation tied at 5-under 283. Park chopped her way over the final nine holes in regulation, committing three bogeys in that stretch, including one on the 18th, for a 3-over 75. Matthew shot a bogey-free final round of 4-under 68 in her final round.

After the first round was interrupted by rain, golfers were forced to play two rounds on the final day. After the first two rounds, Morgan Pressel of the U.S. held a two-shot advantage over Park.

The two were paired in the same group for the final 36 holes. Park took a one-shot lead over the American after the third round, as she shot a 4-under 68 while Pressel only managed a 1-under 71.

In the final round, the two were tied at 7-under after the front nine, with Park mixing in a birdie with two bogeys and Pressel trading a birdie with a bogey.

Pressel blinked first with a bogey on the par-4 10th, giving Park a one-shot advantage. Then the South Korean opened a two-stroke lead with a birdie on the par-5 11th, where Pressel only managed a par.

The American fell three shots behind Park with a bogey on the par-4 12th.

Park dropped a shot with a bogey on the par-4 14th, but Pressel missed a chance to cut the deficit to one when her birdie putt lipped out on the same hole.

Park began uncharacteristically missing fairways and greens, and had another bogey on the par-4 16th to slip to 6-under.

Pressel also had a bogey on the 16th and still trailed Park by two shots. By then, Matthew, playing two groups ahead of Park and Pressel, had quietly crept up the leader board and owned the club house lead at 5-under.

After missing a birdie putt on the par-5 17th, Park found rough off the tee on the 18th and missed the green with her third shot for another bogey.

In the playoff, though, Park recovered her usual accuracy, reaching the fairways on all three holes. Both players recorded pars on the first two playoff holes before Park dealt the clinching blow with the birdie on the third hole.

"It was one of the toughest days and I was very lucky to get into the playoff," Park said in a televised interview. "I wasn't hitting any fairways (late in the final round) but hit all three in the playoff."

The next LPGA major, the U.S. Women's Open, is set for June 27-30 in Southampton, New York. (Yonhap News)
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