Park becomes youngest US Open champion
BY Bruce Young | LPGA Tour | 2008 US Womens Open | Round Four | 30 Jun 2008
19-year-old In Bee Park today won the 2008 US Women’s Open Championship at the Interlachen Country Club just outside of Minneapolis, not only winning her first major championship but her first event on the LPGA Tour. Park’s final round of three under 71 carried her to an impressive four shot victory over Sweden’s Helen Alfredsson, 24 years the senior of Park.
Park’s win establishes her as the youngest player in the history of the event to win the US Women’s Open, replacing her fellow countrywoman and the golfer to whom most of the wave of Korean female golfers have aspired, Se Ri Pak. Pak won the 1998 US Women’s Open at the age of 20 and Park was quick to acknowledge Pak’s role in her success.
“I would really like to thank Se Ri for what she did for Korean golf,” said Park after her win, no doubt echoing the thoughts of the thirty-two Koreans who teed it up this week, nineteen of whom made the cut.
Park is in her second full season on the LPGA Tour after gaining access via a successful season on the Duramed Futures Tour in 2006. Park finished runner up at the Safeway Classic in 2007 and fourth at the Women’s Open at Pine Needles and so this is not altogether unfamiliar territory for her.
Park started the day one shot behind the third round leader Stacy Lewis but birdies at the first two holes set the tone for the day. While many of those around her on the 54 hole leaderboard fell away with the pressure of the occasion, Park stayed in control and even though there were two bogeys before the turn, she had control of the tournament as she headed into the back nine.
Lewis started her round in the worst possible fashion when she double bogeyed the second hole but, to her credit, the newcomer to professional golf steadied the ship with a series of pars and was still tied with Park before bogeys at the 8th and 9th effectively put paid to her bid for an unlikely victory. She would go on to complete a round of 78 and finish in a share of third.
It was however a very impressive professional debut for Lewis and assures her of as many starts as she is entitled to in the months ahead on the LPGA Tour. Surprisingly, the money Lewis earns this week does not count to her LPGA Tour money list position as she is not a member of the LPGA so her quest to gain 2009 status on the LPGA Tour is made that more difficult.
Park’s winning margin was four over Alfredsson who, after playing herself out of contention over the front nine holes, fought back to birdie the last and move out of what would have been a four way tie for second.
Tied in third place were Angela Park, Stacy Lewis and In-Kyung Kim.
The pre tournament favourites finished well back with Annika Sorenstam, playing what might be her last US Open, going out in style by holing a six iron from 199 yards at the last for eagle. She finished 24th while for Lorena Ochoa she disappointed with a 31st place finish.
The best of the Australians was Karrie Webb who finished 38th while Lindsey Wright, Rachel Hetherington and Katherine Hull finished 42nd.