Monday, June 30, 2008

Consistency pays for Park

The major was a first win on the LPGA Tour for Park, and she joined 1998 champion Se Ri Pak, who was the previous youngest winner at the age of 20, and Birdie Kim (2005) as South Korean champions.

Park, the only player to break par in every round, finished on a nine-under-par overall - four shots clear of Sweden's Helen Alfredsson, who birdied the last for a two-over-par 75.

For 43-year-old Alfredsson, it was the second time she had finished second at the US Women's Open, the first time being in 1993.

Giulia Sergas (70), Nicole Castrale (71), Mi Hyun Kim (75) and Paula Creamer (78) finished tied for sixth at three under, with Teresa Lu (74) and Women's US.Amateur champion Maria Jose Uribe (75) rounding out the top 10 at two-under.

"I feel very honoured that I have won this championship at the Interlachen Country Club, and especially with Annika's last event, I really want to share this win with her, too," said Park.

"I am very honoured to win this championship, and this is very, very special to me, and I will never forget this moment.

"I really can't believe I just did this. I mean especially with the with all these big names on the trophy that have been very, very successful. They've done so much for golf and that's just great. Hopefully, I'll put my name on there a couple more times, it will be great."

Park, who was inspired to take up the game as a nine-year-old watching Pak win at Blackwolf Run 10 years ago, started the last day a shot behind American Stacy Lewis but was one ahead after birdies at the first two holes. She was four shots clear and cruising to victory by the time she made her fourth birdie of the day from six feet at the 13th, and she also finished in fine fashion with a chip-and-putt birdie at the last.

"I really would like to thank Se Ri for what she's done for golf, for Korean golf," added Park. "And 10 years ago I was watching her winning this event on TV. I didn't know anything about golf back then. But I was watching her. It was very impressive for a little girl and just looking at her. I just thought that I could do it, too, so I just picked up a golf club maybe a couple of days after that."

Lewis, playing in her first professional tournament, made a double-bogey at the par-five second and went on to shoot 78 and tied for third place on four-under-par alongside South Korean In-Kyung Kim (75) and Brazil's Angela Park (73).

"It's hard to be upset," said 23-year-old Lewis. "I finished third at the US Open, my first pro event. I felt I didn't really play that poorly. I just got above some of the holes and you just can't be there."

Overall, it was a disappointing final US Open for three-time champion Annika Sorenstam, but the Swede, who will retire at the end of the year, finished in spectacular style.

Needing a birdie at the final green to break 80, she holed out with a six iron form 199-yards for an amazing eagle three. It gave her a 78 and she tied for 24th on three-over-par.

"It was just crazy," said Sorenstam, whose final chance to add to her 10 major titles will come at the Ricoh Women's British Open at Sunningdale in August.

"I wanted some memories to take home from this week, and I'll never forget that shot."

World number one Lorena Ochoa carded a final round 74 to finish tied for 31st at one-over-par.

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