Inbee Park at home with LPGA win in North Texas

AP News
Posted: Apr 29, 2013 3:20 AM

IRVING, Texas (AP) — Inbee Park felt right at home in North Texas. The top-ranked woman in the world left with another trophy.

Park played the final 35 holes of the inaugural North Texas LPGA Shootout without a bogey, closing with a 4-under 67 Sunday to finish a stroke ahead of playing partner Carlota Ciganda. It was the third victory this season for the 24-year-old South Korean, and her fifth win her last 18 starts.

"It wasn't something like I was making three, four birdies to catch her," Park said. 'All day, I was just trying to be really patient, and if the chances come, then I win. If not, maybe next chance."

Ciganda shot a 70, losing the opportunity for her first LPGA victory with problems at Nos. 14 and 15, where Park took the lead with pars.

After Ciganda drove into the right rough with a tree between her and the 14th green, her shot from about 130 yards clipped a branch and came up short. She had a chance to save par but her 6-foot putt was short, and Park's par got her within a stroke of the lead.

After stepping away from her approach at No. 15, to a green surrounded by water on three sides, Ciganda hit a shot that went to the right and then rolled down into the water. Ciganda had to go back to a drop zone, where the 22-year-old Spaniard had a decent pitch before her first putt rolled over the left edge of the green for a double bogey 6.

Park made another par and led for good.

"I'm very happy with my round and with my week. ... I had two bad holes on the back nine," Ciganda said.

Between playing and practicing, Park visited Koreatown in Dallas only a few miles from the Las Colinas Country Club. She was also followed on the course by many young Koreans.

"There (were) a lot of Korean girls cheering hard for me too. So, yeah, it felt like a little bit home. So that's good," said Park, who went to Koreatown three or four times. "I just go there to eat and go to bookstore and buy some books and just to look around. They have a bakery, and get a yogurt. All that stuff."

With the $195,000 check for first place, Inbee exceeded $6 million in career earnings and will be No. 1 for the third week in a row. It was her sixth career LPGA victory, along with four more wins in Japan.

Fifth-ranked Suzann Pettersen from Norway, the winner in Hawaii last week, had a closing 66 to get to 10 under and finish third. Hee Young Park (64) and So Yeon Ryu (68) tied for fourth at 275 on the 6,439-yard course with plenty of sloping fairways and raised greens.

Caroline Masson, the LPGA Tour rookie from Germany who led after each of the first two rounds and started Sunday tied for second with Park, shot 75 and finished eight strokes back.

Stacy Lewis, a Texas native and the No. 2 player in the world, had a closing 66 with all six of her birdies and her only bogey coming between Nos. 7-17. She tied for seventh for her sixth top-10 finish this season.

At the end of her round, Lewis signed the back brace of a 6-year-old Dallas girl who was diagnosed with scoliosis at 18 months old. Lewis wore a similar brace 18 hours a day for seven years after being diagnosed with scoliosis at age 11 and missed her first collegiate season after a spinal fusion.

Ciganda played last season on the Ladies European Tour, where she was the top rookie and the top money winner — the first player since Laura Davies in 1985 to accomplish that feat. She won twice in Europe last year and now has her best LPGA finish.

"It's always nice to win, but I think when you finish second or even worse, I think you learn more from it," Ciganda said. "So I think it's a great experience."

At the 403-yard eighth hole, Park made a birdie before Ciganda followed with one of her own and responded with a slight fist pump when her ball dropped into the cup. They both had pars at No. 9, where Park was closer to the hole even though she missed the green to the left, and they traded birdies again at the par-5 10th.

"Carlota was playing great golf. And I was really ready to actually congratulate her if she played that solid on the back nine," Park said.

Ciganda is returning to Europe but will be back on the LPGA Tour in June.

"I was happy and playing good and having fun and enjoying the day," she said. "And then I think, let me see, the hole it bounced to the right, but I had a bogey there and then hit it to the water on 15."