Sports Outside the Beltway

Hee Young Park wins CME Titleholders Championship

The 2011 LPGA Tour season is over. From USA Today-

Holding off some of the biggest names in women’s golf, unheralded Hee Young Park won the CME Group Titleholders on Sunday for her first career LPGA title.

Hee Young Park of South Korea shows off her prize after winning the CME Group Titleholders on Sunday in Orlando.

Park, with a closing 70, finished at 9-under-par 279 to beat Paula Creamer and Sandra Gal by two shots at sun-splashed Grand Cypress Resort to win the LPGA tour’s season-ending event. Another shot back were Na Yeon Choi and world No. 2 Suzann Pettersen. Michelle Wie, world No. 3 Cristie Kerr and world No. 1 Yani Tseng, trying to win for the 12th time this season, made brief runs at the championship before finishing in a tie for sixth, seven shots behind.

“I still cannot believe this,” Park said. “On the back nine I was getting like nervous and then getting tight in my body. So my caddie said, ‘Just keep going, keep trying to (play) like (it’s the) first round. You’re on the tee first time each hole, and just keep doing the same thing.’ And then I said ‘OK.’ ”

After a pep talk from Kerr on the driving range — “She told me to cheer up and that I could do it, that I could win,” Park said — she pocketed $500,000, by far the largest check of her career. She said a key moment in her round came after a bogey on the fourth hole. Telling herself that she was thinking too much about every shot up to that point, Park from then on just trusted her instincts and her club selection.

Park had won a professional tournament before, the last of her three victories on the LPGA of Korea Tour coming in 2006.

“My first win in the U.S., it feels totally different,” Park said. “Still same kind of goose bumps, but this win, I think could change my life, my future.”

Park, the overnight leader with Gal, had recorded only two top-10s in 20 events heading into the Titleholders. But she took the outright lead in the final round for the first time with a birdie on the par-3 eighth hole, her third birdie in four holes. With the two paired in the final group, Gal pulled within one shot with back-to-back birdies on the 13th and 14th holes, but a bogey at the 15th dropped her two back. Park, with a steady hand and a clutch putter, closed out her victory with 10 consecutive pars.

“She had great composure all day long,” Gal said of Park. “She’s always smiling. I’ve played with her many times, and she’s such a great competitor to play with because she’s always happy and just plays her own game.

“She didn’t make any bogeys. Her short game was great, and she made some good birdies early on, and I think that kind of gave her the momentum for the entire round.”

Added Creamer about Park: “That’s awesome playing on this course, and playing against all the big names out there. She’s a great player, and she deserved it.”

Creamer, who missed three putts inside 4 feet early in her round, made a charge with three birdies in four holes on the back nine. But just as her whole season has gone — nine top-10s, no victories — she came up just short.

Park was a deserving winner today. It will have to be seen if she can follow up with more LPGA wins. The list of South Korean golfers with one or two wins is kind of long.(Birdie Kim, Jeong Jang, Gloria Park, Eun Hi Ji, Inbee Park, Jee Young Lee, Shi Hyun Ahn, and more.)

Park is only one of three South Koreans to win on tour in 2011. The others were Na Yeon Choi, and U.S. Open Champion So Yeon Ryu. Hee Kyung Seo aka ‘The Supermodel of the Fairways’ did take home the Rookie of the Year award. So much for the Koreans taking over the LPGA Tour, eh?

The LPGA hasn’t announced its 2012 schedule yet. I’m assuming it will be starting in Australia next February, but yours truly hopes for a miracle. A start up in South Florida, which was normal for the LPGA up till about 10 years ago, would be very nice not to mention convenient for me.

Related Stories:
Recent Stories:

Comments are Closed


Visitors Since Feb. 4, 2003

All original content copyright 2003-2008 by OTB Media. All rights reserved.