Phenomenal Park holds off Ko and Lewis in Singapore shootout

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 08, 2015 3:51 AM

By Patrick Johnston

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - South Korea's Park In-bee claimed the $1.4 million HSBC Women's Champions by two shots on Sunday as world number one Lydia Ko and third-ranked Stacy Lewis wilted in the Singapore heat.

Park, who led the duo by two overnight, fired a composed two-under-par 70 for a 15-under 273 total to hold off the esteemed pair in a superb Sunday shootout between the top three players in women's golf.

While the trio wowed the galleries with their prodigious skills, only Park could couple it with consistency as she negotiated her fourth bogey-free round of the week at the notoriously tricky Serapong Course on Sentosa Island.

She tapped in for her 16th par of the day at the last to edge Ko (70) by two after the New Zealander birdied the hole to break out of a tie for second with Lewis (72), who found water with her approach.

"I'm just so proud of myself. This is a good sign for the season and hopefully many more to come," five-times major winner Park said after being doused in champagne by her compatriots on the final green.

The 26-year-old Park started the day two clear but 17-year-old Ko had drawn level by the fifth following back-to-back birdies, with Texan Lewis also clawing within one after picking up an early shot.

A neat up and down from the apron of the green at the par-five seventh resulted in Park's first birdie of the day, matched by Ko after another razor-like approach by the youngest world number one in golf who usurped Park in January.

But Ko, winner of her last two events in Australia and New Zealand, began to unravel.

She three-putted from off the green for a bogey-four on the eighth and scrambled hard to claim pars over the next three holes after some wayward tee shots.

Lewis, the 2013 British Open champion and a former world number one, struck branches en route to a bogey-five on the 10th and her race looked run after her second shot with a fairway wood at the par-five 12th landed in a tree.

But the American's caddie climbed on top of the rules official's cart to identify and retrieve the ball, with Lewis going on to hole a lengthy, curling putt from off the green to make a miraculous par-five.

Another long birdie putt at the 13th pulled her within three of the lead but that was as close as the American got, eventually finishing at 11-under, four back.

Ko also struggled on the 12th, finding sand before missing a short put for par -- the first of two consecutive dropped shots that ended her aspirations of a hat-trick of titles.

All the while, Park was finding fairways and greens.

A left to right curling birdie putt on 11 found the center of the cup and edged her clear and she never looked backed as she cruised to her first title of the year.

"She made no bogeys. That's pretty phenomenal," Ko said.

(Editing by)