Park Ji-young won her first major championship and became the first golfer to reach the three-win plateau this season.
Park shot a 1-under 71 in the final round of the KB Financial Star Championship, the fourth major of the season on the Korean Ladies Professional Golf Association (KLPGA) Tour, at Blackstone Golf Club (Par 72) in Icheon-si, Gyeonggi-do, on Tuesday for a four-round total of 2-under 286.
It was her third victory of the season after winning the season-opening Hana Financial Group Singapore Women’s Open in December and the Abercollagen-Duchesne Queen’s Crown in July.
Park is the first player to win three tournaments on the KLPGA Tour this year.
It was also Park’s first major championship in her nine-year career.
Prior to this event, Park had won six titles and had never won a major.
With the $216 million in prize money, Park moved into second place on the money list ($923.3 million) and second place on the points list.
With her stroke average at the top of the leaderboard, Park has emerged as a strong contender for all individual titles, including Money List, Grand Prize, and Most Valuable Player.
Park hasn’t won an individual title since winning Rookie of the Year in 2015.
“I want to win as many tournaments as possible for the rest of the season,” Park said, “and I want to win more majors now that I have a chance to win a major.”
Entering the final round in third place, two strokes behind leader Lee Ga-young, Park pulled off the upset with a solid performance that included two birdies and one bogey on a challenging course that made it difficult to shoot under par.
Park said, “The course was difficult, so today I thought I would protect it as much as possible and take my chances when they came. I was able to hang in there and it paid off,” Park said, “I realized that I need to play smart in a major.”
Park, who responded to Lee’s 8-meter birdie at the par-3 third with a 3-meter birdie to spark the comeback, had to battle with Lee for the lead after Lee double-bogeyed the fourth and bogeyed the seventh and ninth.
Lee started the final round with a one-stroke lead over Park, and while she didn’t have a birdie until the ninth hole, she didn’t make any bogeys and didn’t allow Park to catch up.
In fact, Park bogeyed the seventh (par-3) hole to fall two strokes behind Lee.
After Lee Ye-won missed a par putt by less than a meter on the 10th hole, Park moved into a tie for the lead, but her tee shot on the 14th hole (par-4) landed in the cart path on the right.
After landing in the rough outside the road, Park made a great shot to get her ball on the green.
The match came down to the 15th hole (par 5).
With as many bogeys as birdies, the 15th is a “chance and risk” hole.
Park hit her second shot off the tee with an iron, then with her third shot, she sent the ball two meters in front of the hole and holed a birdie putt.
Lee dropped her third shot into a bunker next to the green and was one down after five shots.
With a two-stroke lead, Park made birdie on the 17th hole (par-4) when her birdie putt from 20 meters missed the hole by two feet.
Park made the putt and pumped her right fist in the air in anticipation of her victory.
With a two-stroke lead, Park teed off on the 18th hole (par-5) with a fairway wood and then cut her second shot with an iron, safely putting the ball on the green and clinching the win with two putts.
“I birdied the 15th to take a two-stroke lead, but I didn’t relax,” Park said, “and it wasn’t until I put my third shot on the green at the 18th that I felt at ease.”
Park had the only under-par score of the tournament.
Lee lost another stroke on the 18th hole when her driver went into the bushes on the right and she was unable to hold onto her second-place finish and slipped to a tie for second (1-over par 289).
Lee retained the top spot on the money list and moved into first place on the grand prize points list, but fell just over 11 million won short of surpassing the 1 billion won mark for the season.
Lee finished in a tie for second place after making just one birdie and dropping four shots with a double bogey and three bogeys. This is Lee’s second runner-up finish of the season.
Kim Min-byul, who fired a daily best of 5-under 67, moved into a tie for second place and regained the lead in the Rookie of the Year race over Hwang Yoo-min.
Defending champion Park Min-ji dropped one stroke with four birdies and five bogeys to finish in a tie for 11th place (7-over par 295).
Inji Jeon finished tied for 54th (17-over par 305). 파워볼