“Korean teenager Park In-bee holds the U.S. Women’s Open championship trophy after finishing at 9-under for a four shot victory. At 19, she is the youngest ever champion of the U.S. Women’s Open.”
I watched this Gyopo girl when she was in her teens dominating the Jr. circuit. She now has achieved greatness already at 19 years of age. Korean Americans and Koreans have been dominating the professional womens’ tour for quite some time and In-Bee Park adds to the list of winners.
July 01, 2008
Park In-bee was so impressed with Pak Se-ri’s victory at the 1998 U.S. Women’s Open that two days later, the then 9-year-old Park got her hands on a golf club for the first time.
Turn the clock forward 10 years. Park has replaced Pak as the youngest ever champion of the U.S. Women’s Open.
Park, who turns 20 on July 23, shot a two-under 71 in the final round to claim a four-shot victory over Helen Alfredsson at the Interlachen Country Club in Edina, Minnesota. Pak won the 1998 Open when she was 20.
“I am very honored to win this championship,” Park told LPGA.com. “This is very, very special to me, and I will never forget this moment …”
“I can’t believe I just did this, especially with all these big names on the trophy,” Park added. “Hopefully, I’ll put a couple of my names on there. It will be great.”
Park is the third Korean winner on the LPGA Tour this season. She is the fifth Korean, after Pak, Grace Park, Birdie Kim and Jang Jeong, to capture an LPGA major.
An LPGA Tour sophomore, Park entered the final round trailing Stacy Lewis by two strokes. Lewis was trying to become the first player to win a major in her professional debut, but she stumbled to a 78 to tie for third. American star Paula Creamer, seeking her first major, was one shot behind Lewis heading into the last round. But she also ballooned to a 78 to finish tied for sixth.
“It’s probably the most disappointed I’ve been in a very long time,” Creamer told the Associated Press.
Park, who arrived in Florida at 12 and later attended University of Nevada, Las Vegas, was the only player in the final nine groups to break par. She finished at 9-under and earned $585,000.
Decked out in white from head to toe, Park opened her day with two straight birdies and managed two birdies and a par on a key stretch from the 11th to 13th holes.
She capped her first career major with her fifth birdie of the day on the 18th.
Park entered the U.S. Women’s Open with five top-10 finishes in 2008 but had not been able to close the deal.
“You’ve got to learn from your mistakes, and that’s what I did,” Park said. “I am very confident now and I think I can do it again.”
Two more Koreans finished in the top 10. Kim In-kyung ended at 4-under to tie two others for third place and Kim Mi-hyun was another shot back to tie with three others for sixth.
Annika Sorenstam, playing in her final Women’s Open, finished tied for 24th at 3-over, but her day still provided drama ? her final shot was a 6-iron from 199 yards that dropped in for eagle.
The three-time U.S. Women’s Open winner said she was “leaving with another great memory, that’s for sure. Maybe not the one I had in mind, but I’ll take it.”
The world’s No. 1 female golfer, Lorena Ochoa, seeking her first U.S. Open win, never contended this week and closed with a 74 to tie for 31st.
Alfredsson, the 43-year-old veteran, was Park’s playing partner and she marveled at the Korean’s poise.
“She was very calm, never changed anything,” Alfredsson told the AP. “And really, that’s very impressive for a 19-year-old. She’s going to win a lot more.”
Park also didn’t forget to show her appreciation for veterans who paved the way.
“I really would like to thank Se-ri for what she’s done for golf, for Korean golf,” Park said. “I feel very honored to win Annika’s last [U.S. Women’s Open]. I really want to share this win with her, too.”
By Yoo Jee-ho Staff Reporter [firstname.lastname@example.org]