Saturday, January 20, 2018
Golf

Park wins U.S. Women's Open

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. — Inbee Park set many golfing goals. Etching her name alongside Babe Didrikson Zaharias was never one of them.

Yet now they're the only women to win the first three majors of the year. Park became the first to accomplish the feat in the modern era Sunday with her second U.S. Women's Open title.

"Trying to put my name next to hers means just so much," said Park, who turns 25 on July 12. "It's somewhere that I've never dreamed of. But all of a sudden, I'm there."

The world's top-ranked player started the day leading by four and finished at 8-under 280 to win by four. Her 2-over 74 Sunday was more than enough with Sebonack's trying conditions keeping any rivals from making a run. Only three players were under par for the tournament.

Park already has won six events this year, including the past three. At age 19 in 2008, she became the youngest U.S. Women's Open winner.

"I didn't know what was going on at that time," Park said. "I played very good golf then. But I didn't know what I was playing for, and that was just my first win. It was a great championship then, but now I think I really appreciate more."

I.K. Kim (75) finished second and So Yeon Ryu (72) third. South Koreans took the top three spots and have won the past five majors.

With lashing wind and devilish greens, Sebonack was a classically troublesome Open course. And once Park built a lead, nobody could mount a charge. She wasn't going to make enough mistakes to come back to the field. Park had just 10 bogeys and no double bogeys over four rounds.

On Saturday, she predicted shooting par in the final round would be enough, and she was right. Only four players were under par. (Saturday, only Park was under par.)

Kim birdied No. 2 to pull within three shots but bogeyed No. 4. Park bogeyed Nos. 6 and 7, but so did Kim, who finished three shots ahead of Ryu.

"You can feel for someone like I.K. Kim," said seven-time major champion Karrie Webb, who tied for 13th. "(She) would be winning any other U.S. Open on this golf course if it weren't for Inbee."

This was Kim's fourth top-four finish at the U.S. Women's Open, but she's still seeking her first major title. At last year's Kraft Nabisco, she missed a 1-foot putt at No. 18 that would have won the tournament then lost in a playoff.

Asked if she feels she's on the verge of a major breakthrough, Kim paused for a moment then said: "Yeah, to be honest, yeah, it's time to win it."

Zaharias, who moved to Tampa in the '50s after marrying George Zaharias, won the first three majors in 1950 — when there were only three. Park won the Kraft Nabisco in April and LPGA Championship in June for her first two majors. Starting this year, there are five majors, complicating the definition of "Grand Slam."

"It would be great if I could win five," Park said. "But I still think four means a Grand Slam."

Laughing, she added: "I think four out of five is very big."

Champions: Perry … at last

PITTSBURGH — Kenny Perry took the lead with birdies at Nos. 16 and 17 then held on to win the Senior Players Championship for his first major. He shot bogey-free 6-under 64 for 19-under 261, two ahead of Fred Couples (68) and Duffy Waldorf (64).

Perry led at No. 18 at the 1996 PGA Championship and at No. 17 at the 2009 Masters. In May, he led the Senior PGA after three rounds. He won none of them.

"I wasn't going to put any pressure on myself to win … because I had so much heartache, so many losses," Perry said. "I was just thinking 'You know what? I'm tired of worrying about that.' "

Couples, who started the day in first, two ahead of Perry, three-putted at No. 8 (for par) and No. 15 (for bogey).

PGA: Bill Haas took the lead with three consecutive birdies and won the AT&T National in Bethesda, Md. Haas has won at least one tour event each of the past four years, matched only by Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose. Six players had a share of the lead at some point Sunday until Haas made the first of his three birdies at No. 8. He led by at least two for the entire back nine and shot 5-under 66 to finish at 12-under 272, three ahead of Roberto Castro (69). "I just kept the ball in front of me," Haas said. "Nothing too crazy."

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