The #1 ranked player in the world did it again. With a four-shot lead going into the round, Inbee Park cruised to a four-shot win. Park has won the last three tournaments, the last three LPGA major championships, and every LPGA major played in 2013.
Park opened the final round with her closest challenger being In-Kyung Kim. Inky, my nickname for In-Kyung, was one of my picks for this week and one of my favorite players. I was pulling for her but Inky didn’t get closer than three shots to Inbee. No other golfer contended and Park won without much of a struggle.
Lets put Park’s win in perspective.
She has joined Se Ri Pak as the only South Korean golfer to win three different LPGA major championships. Pak has won five majors in her career. Park has four triumphs. Her first was the 2008 US Open.
Park has won the last three LPGA tournaments played. She has won ALL three LPGA major championships this year. The last time a LPGA golfer won three majors in one year was Pat Bradley in 1986. Mickey Wright also won three major championships in 1961.
The only other golfer besides Park to win the first three major championships in a year was Babe Didrickson Zaharias in 1950! 1950 was the LPGA Tour’s first ever season.
Tiger Woods is the last golfer to win three majors in one year. He did it in 2000. Woods won four consecutive majors. The last three of 2000 and the 2001 Masters. It was titled the ‘Tiger Slam’.
In 1961 and 1962, Mickey Wright won four straight majors but I might be about the only person to note it in recent memory. She won the last two majors of 1961 and the first two of 1962.
Ben Hogan won three majors in 1953.
Bobby Jones remains the only golfer to complete a Grand Slam. He did it in 1930. Note- Hogan won all three major championships he played in that year. The British Open and PGA Championship at that time were played at almost the same time. Hogan won the British Open but couldn’t compete in the PGA.
Park is one win away– The Women’s British Open which she finished 2nd at in 2012 — from becoming the seventh golfer to win four different LPGA major Championships. The others are- Mickey Wright, Annika Sorenstam, Karrie Webb, Juli Inkster, Louise Suggs and Pat Bradley.
Ordinarily a Park British Open triumph won give Park a career Grand Slam, except the LPGA has designated the Evian Masters as a major championship also. Beginning THIS YEAR. So Park would have to win two more majors this year to do a Bobby Jones. Memo to LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan- Do you wish now that the Evian wasn’t made into a major championship?
Inbee Park BTW is the defending Evian Masters champion.
So Park will be going for four majors in one year in a little over a month. It will be played at St. Andrews, the same course Tiger Woods completed a career Grand Slam at back in 2000. A run at golf or any other sports history like this would ordinarily gather lots of media attention but I’ll be surprised if the Women’s British Open gets more than a minor increase in coverage. Golf bloggers who I won’t mention, are paying attention to silly things from golfers with wet pants to a player firing their caddy in the middle of a round. Newspapers will have the story buried on page 8. They can hardly be bothered to write about a LPGA major and I’m not expecting much from them on the WBO ESPN does broadcast the WBO, but I again will be surprised if they do anything extra for this year’s tournament. That Park is South Korean, has something to do with it. The ugly reality is that a good chunk of the media has a bias towards the Asian players. I will however the 4th major being not in the United States will be one reason for the limited coverage though the Men’s British Open rarely has trouble getting talked about. If it was Paula Creamer going for the Slam five weeks from now in say New Jersey, there would be plenty of people writing and talking about it. With Park trying to do it in Scotland, hardly anybody.
It is the second straight major championship triumph for the 24-year-old South Korean.
Thirty-six holes of golf were not enough, but 39 worked out just fine for Inbee Park at Locust Hill Country Club on Sunday.
Park, the world’s top-ranked player, defeated Scotland’s Catriona Matthew in a three-hole playoff Sunday afternoon to win the Wegmans Rochester LPGA Championship, the second major on the LPGA Tour schedule this season.
The playoff was the sixth in the 37-year history of LPGA golf in Rochester and the first since Lorena Ochoa defeated In-Kyung Kim in 2007.
Park, 24, shot a 4-under-par 68 in the third round on Sunday morning but struggled down the stretch in the afternoon to a final-round 75 with bogeys on three of her last five holes (Nos. 14, 16 and 18).
Park and Matthew matched pars on the first two holes of the playoff (Nos. 18 and 10), but Matthew found the right rough off the tee on the third playoff hole while Park hit the fairway and was safely on the green in two shots.
Matthew chipped her fourth shot on and had about 15 feet left for bogey, but Park sank a birdie putt from about 18 feet to seal her third major victory.
Suzann Pettersen of Norway shot the low round of the week, a 65 on Sunday afternoon, to tie for third with Morgan Pressel, the 36-hole leader who began Sunday with a two-shot lead over Park and Chella Choi, at 4-under.
The victory makes Park, a native of Seoul, South Korea, the seventh woman in LPGA history to win the first two majors of the season. She also captured the Kraft Nabisco Championship in April. Asian-born players have won the last nine majors on the LPGA Tour.
- Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
Park nearly didn’t win today. Her driving was not very good throughout and she played the 72nd and last hole of regulation terribly. She needed to get up and down from the fringe to make bogey and get in the playoff.
Nevertheless Park came out on top. She now hold three legs of the Women’s Grand Slam. Before this year, she’d be one win away(The Women’s British Open) from a career slam but the LPGA decided to elevate the Evian Masters to major status. So she needs two more wins now.
The way Park is playing right now, I wouldn’t bet against her winning another major this year.
The golfer nicknamed the ‘Final Round Queen’ lived up to her nickname today. She won the last LPGA major Championship of 2012 by 9 shots over Inbee Park. Just six days ago Shin defeated Paula Creamer in a sudden death playoff at the Kingsmill Championship.
Shin shot a 71 to open the tournament, then followed it with a course record 64 to open up a five-shot lead going in the day of play. Due to inclement weather on Friday, players who made the tournament cut, had to play 36 holes today.
No South Korean golfer other than Se Ri Pak has won more than one LPGA major. Another tidbit- No South Korean golfer other than Pak has won a double digit amount of LPGA tournaments. As I’ve written a few times, there have been a large number of South Korean golfers who started strongly on the LPGA Tour and then went into decline. Jiyai Shin, winner of the 2008 Women’s British Open, came into today with one LPGA major championship triumph and nine LPGA wins respectively. So she was looking to join Pak.
Karrie Webb shot a third round 68 to pull within 3 shots of Shin with 18 holes to go. The weather turned horrible in the short period of time between Webb and Shin finishing their 3rd rounds and teeing it up for the 4th round. Rain and gusting strong winds. The final round was going to be a matter of survival.
Shin makes a triple bogey on the opening round of her 4th round. Webb made double bogey but Shin’s lead was down to two. That is as close as it came. Shin played the final 17 holes of her 4th round in 2 under par. Webb, Inbee Park, and Mika Miyazato, all faded. The weather was bad for most of the day, in fact there was a 15 minute stoppage as the winds were just gusting too strongly. It was just incredible how Shin played after the 1st hole. She never came close to another disaster. Her final round 73 may have been just as good as Shin’s course record 64 in the second round. Only two golfers, Creamer and Alexis Thompson, shot better rounds than Shin and they each came with 72s.
I think its safe to say Shin is back. The last few weeks look to me look like her making another run at #1 in the world.
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.
Tomorrow, or Wednesday night United States time, The United States based Women’s Professional Golf organization will begin playing its first event of the year.
Major Champions- Choi, Pettersen, Wie, IK Kim
Player of the Year- Choi
Rookie of the Year- Jennifer Song
Comeback Player of the Year- Eun Hee Ji
Song Hee Kim will win her first LPGA tournament
Under the fold are my top 30 players for this year. Mostly Harmless has a round up of other prognostications from LPGA followers.
2 NY Choi
7 SH Kim
8 IK Kim
9 A Miyazato
10 IB Park
12 V Hurst
13 A Yang
16 M Miyazato
23 C Kim
27 JY Lee
30 J Song
« Hide it
It was her first win since 2005. From AP-
Jimin Kang won the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia for her second LPGA Tour title, beating Juli Inkster by a stroke Sunday when the 50-year-old Hall of Famer bogeyed the final hole.
Kang, the 30-year-old South Korean player who went to high school in Edmonds, Wash., and starred at Arizona State, made a 12-foot birdie putt on the par-4 18th for a 6-under 65 and a 9-under total at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.
“Speechless,” Kang said. “That’s not that easy to do for me. I played solid. I hit a lot of putts. As you guys can tell, my score was good enough to win a tournament, and you know, it’s been a while. So I’m trying to soak this in.
“Oh, my God, I can’t believe I won!”
Inkster finished with her second straight 67. She birdied Nos. 15-17 to take the lead, but couldn’t hold on in her bid to break the LPGA Tour age record of 46 years, 8 months set by Beth Daniel in the 2003 Canadian Women’s Open.
Playing in the group behind Kang, Inkster pushed her second shot into the right greenside bunker at 18, then nearly holed out from the sand before two-putting for bogey.
“When I miss it, I miss it right,” Inkster said about her approach shot. “It was a three-quarter shot and I left it out there. I played well all day.
“I really enjoy what I do. It’s nice to be able to compete.”
Kang, also the 2005 LPGA Corning Classic winner, birdied three of the last four holes and earned $270,000 in the inaugural event.
Kang won Corning in dramatic style. She made a hole-in-one on the 15th hole Sunday and edged Annika Sorenstam for the win also.
After a so-so 2006, Kang was very consistent golfer(Her standings on the money list falling between 42nd and 56th each year) from 2007 to her win today. Still her win was a surprise to me today. Kang had rarely contended in those years and I long since pegged her as one of those Korean players(Shi Hyun Ahn, Birdie Kim, Joo Mi Kim, Meena Lee) who win once or twice then fade slowly or quickly from view.
Juli Inkster continues to show she has has game at age 50. She had two top 10′s coming into Malaysia and was in the top 45 money winners. She improved that today and her chances of qualifying for next year’s Solheim Cup team.
She had won two tournaments in Australia since her last LPGA win. From AP-
Australia’s Katherine Hull rallied to win the Navistar LPGA Classic on Sunday for her second career LPGA Tour victory, pulling ahead with a birdie on the par-5 17th and finishing with a par for a 5-under 67 and a one-stroke victory over Brittany Lincicome.
Hull, the former Pepperdine player who also won the 2008 Canadian Women’s Open, finished at 19-under 269 on the links-style Senator layout at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail’s Capitol Hill complex. After opening with a 68, she had three straight bogey-free 67s.
Lincicome closed with a 65. Third-round leader Cristie Kerr shot a 72 to tie for third at 17 under with Na Yeon Choi (69). Kerr played the first 50 holes in 20 under, then was 3 over on the final 22.
Kerr has as much as a five-shot lead during Saturday’s 3rd round. Hull is a very good golfer. She was second at the Women’s British Open last August. I expect her one day to take the mantle away from Karrie Webb as to who is the best Australian female golfer. Right now, you could make an argument it is Hull.
One of my favorite players, Brittany Lincicome, was runner-up for the second time this year in a Alabama based LPGA event. She lost a playoff to Se Ri Pak in Mobile last May.
Also blogging the Navistar- Hound Dog and The Constructivist at Mostly Harmless. TC points out if not for three shots, we could have had a Double Yang weekend. Amy Yang finished fifth at the Navistar and YE Yang won the Korean Open.
She shot a final round 70 to finish three shots ahead of Kristy McPherson, Jiyai Shin, Suzann Pettersen, and Jee Young Lee.
Wie opened Sunday tied for the lead at minus ten with Shin. Both golfers made an early bogey to fall back to minus nine.
This allowed Pettersen, Lee, and a red hot Kyeong Bae to get within one of the lead.
On the 8th hole, Wie got the lead to herself and never was tied again. She made a birdie putt from less than ten feet as Shin couldn’t get it up and down from a bunker. Michelle was up by two with ten holes to go.
Wie birdied holes 13, 14, and 15 to open up a four-shot lead. The 13th and 14th holes were par 5′s. Shin and Wie both made birdie from less than ten feet. On the 14th Wie hit her second shot into a greenside bunker and made a mediocre sand shot. No problem- Wie ran in a twenty footer for birdie as Shin scrambled for par. Her third birdie was a chip-in from just off the back of the green. She made a great par on 16 after a bad drive and an approach shot into a bunker. She did make a three-putt bogey on 17 but 18 was a safe walk in the park for her. A good drive and approach, two putts for par and the victory. Wie now has two LPGA Tour wins, but neither happened in the United States. Her first win was the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Mexico last enough.
Curiously enough my family ate the exact same dinner, Chicken Parmesan served with Penne pasta, when Wie won both her tournaments. I make this dinner on average about every six weeks, but usually not with Penne. If Michelle Wie reads this, she may ask me to make of this food when she’s in contention. Cue the sarcastic laughter.
Today’s win was as impressive as her first. She played steady golf and made timely birdies. A television announcer said the win will put Wie at #7 in the Rolex rankings which are already a crowded fight for #1.
*- Will Golf World magazine put Wie on its cover this week? Ai Miyazato has won 5 LPGA tournaments this year, Yani Tseng won two major championships, but GW never once put them on the cover. Instead we the magazine’s subscribers got to see Anthony Kim and Arjun Atwel featured.
I think Golf World won’t take a pass on a Wie cover but its editors and writers have proved to be dumb and clueless before and they could do it again.
*- At no time during the golf broadcast was a mention made of the cheating controversy I blogged about today and yesterday. This is a little surprising because announcer Judy Rankin has been known to check the internet and make mention of something she read.
*- Suzann Pettersen again couldn’t make birdie putts when in contention. She had four or five good to very good chances at least for birdie today.
*- LPGA’s live scoring had Jee Young Lee making an eagle on ten and pulling to one behind Wie. It was a mistake, Lee only made a birdie. Lee’s run at the title was spoiled by back to back bogeys on 11 and 12.
*- Will Jiyai Shin retake #1 in the Rolex rankings? She, Ai Miyazato, and Cristie Kerr are closely grouped and Shin finished 2nd today where as her rivals finished T15 and T8 respectively.
Shin remains #4 in the world rankings behind Ai Miyazato, Cristie Kerr, and Suzann Pettersen.
Also blogging about Wie’s win- Hound Dog and The Constructivist at Mostly Harmless
Steve Elling at CBS Sports has more on the incident at the CN Canadian Open which I wrote about yesterday.
Initially, the LPGA seemed satisfied with the player actions and sanctions.
“No one with the LPGA was privy to any discussions between the players and caddies in advance of the players’ efforts to seek out a rules official to explain the situation,” a spokesman said Saturday. “We know only that the players came forward, admitted their issue and received the appropriate result based on the rules of golf.”
However, that stance has clearly changed.
LPGA communications chief David Higdon confirmed Sunday morning to CBSSports.com that the tour intends to interview all the parties involved and then mull a possible course of action.
“We have treated this situation very seriously, and have or will speak to all principles involved,” Higdon said in an email Sunday morning. “Yes, we are looking very closely at it.”
The LPGA has had issues in the past with South Korean natives, who have been accused by other players of bending rules by conversing with friends or parents and receiving advice in their native tongue, among other perceived violations. The LPGA at one point put players on notice that such conversations and interaction would not be tolerated. One longtime LPGA caddie with his own blog site claimed this weekend that Korean players have been getting away with rules violations for years, causing some to accuse him of racism.
The LPGA has to investigate what happened, and if Ahn and Chung’s actions were deliberate, they should be suspended from the tour. Ryan at Waggle Room now writes
On Saturday evening, Waggle Room learned that it was Ahn’s caddie who told the story direct to Smich but may not be willing to share details publicly for fear of being shunned in the golf community.
Ahn’s caddy could be in position of causing great harm to a pro golfer’s career and reputation. It is very understandable why he wouldn’t want to talk publicly.
One last comment about Smich. He has a long history of making derogatory comments about the South Korean players. People who have read his blog for any length of time, would have a basis to say he is a racist. I think his anger at being fired by Mi Hyun Kim 11 years ago has made him very bitter and his lack of success as a caddie of late,(He hasn’t been close to a winning bag in all the time he’s blogged, and if I checked, the top 20 finishes of his players in that time can be counted on one hand easily) caused his feelings to turn to hate or racism. His outspokenness has undoubtedly caused these players also not to want to hire him.
Interestingly enough I checked Smich’s archives, he worked for Ahn once at the Wegmans. So he has caddied for both Ahn and Chung in the past.
At the CN Canadian Open, Michelle Wie has a 2-shot lead with 5 holes to go.
Hat tip- Geoff Shackelford
Update- Golf writer and blogger Bob Weeks has more
A source told me on Sunday that the two players allegedly knew about the mix up by the time they reaced the scorer’s tent and discussed it in Korean, agreeing not to bring it up. The source then alleged that Ahn’s caddie also knew about the situation and threatened to turn them in.
Reportedly, the players waited two hours after their final round before contacting the LPGA Tour to report the incident, calling from their hotel.
Weeks is a much more credible source than Larry Smich. Chung and Ahn are in for big trouble.
LPGA Blogger and Caddie Larry Smich wrote the following-
Finally, caught in the act! All this time, I’ve been detailing cheating by the Koreans and been called a racist and more for my observations. Even been taken to the woodshed by the head honcho. Well yesterday, it all became evident that I was spot on. Did you notice that Shi Hyun Ahn and Ilmi Chung were disqualified? The reason is that they both played the wrong ball on their final hole and not correcting the infraction before signing their cards, to put it mildly.
Here is what I’ve heard of the alleged incident. Both balls were in the fairway. Ahn missed the green and Ilmi hit hers on. Ahn chipped it close and tapped in for par. This is where it all begins. Apparently, Ahn noticed that this was not her ball and conversed in Korean with Ilmi. In the mean time, at least one caddie in the group noticed it also but did not say anything. They finished the hole, went to the scoring tent, checked the scores and signed their cards. Somewhere, either before or after going to the tent, Ahn told her caddie (a Nationwide looper and only working for her this week) “You did not see anything”. As of right now, I do not know who owned up and went to the officials. The third player in the group was oblivious to the situation and was not involved. BTW, Ahn shot 72 and Chung a 76.
Before I go any further I’ll give some background on Smich and the golfers he is accusing. He has been an LPGA caddie for over 30 years. In that time, he has had three winning bags. The last of which was with Mi Hyun Kim in 1999. Shortly after that win, Kim fired Smich.
Smich has worked for other South Korean players, but the last was over two years ago. He did work for Chung at some point in the middle of the last decade.
Anyone who reads Smich’s blog knows he doesn’t like the Korean players. Ryan at Waggle Room uses the word vendetta towards how Smich writes about players from South Korea. In 2007, Smich also accused LPGA player Young Kim of cheating. Most of the time Smich doesn’t name players when he makes cheating allegations.
Ahn is a one-time winner on the LPGA Tour and was the 2004 Rookie of the Year. She is a looker, and is nicknamed Cinderella. I get lots of hits at my home blog from people looking either for Ahn photos or are looking to find out what golfer is nicknamed Cinderella.
At the 2009 LPGA Championship, a golf ball of Ahn’s struck and killed a bird.
Chung has never won on the LPGA Tour and since the retirement of Pearl Sinn, I believe she is the oldest South Korean born player on the LPGA Tour.
Ryan at Waggle Room apparently got someone to corroborate part of what Smich says(Remember he didn’t see it happen)
We have learned of a second account of the situation. The second account is all the same until the green.
When Ahn and Chung realized what had happened, Chung’s caddy approached Downey’s caddy and said, “We have a bit of a problem, but I’m not saying anything.” Downey’s caddy went into the scoring tent. Ahn and Chung signed for their scores. Downey’s caddy was prepared to turn in Ahn and Chung, which then prompted their seeking of LPGA officials for a ruling and their certain disqualification.
The LPGA’s Mike Scanlan also made the following comment to Ryan-
“The players sought out a rules official after their round to explain the situation and were subsequently disqualified.
“No one with the LPGA was privy to any discussions between the players and caddies in advance of the players’ efforts to seek out a rules official to explain the situation. We know only that the players came forward, admitted their issue and received the appropriate result based on the Rules of Golf.”
Bob Weeks, who is also blogging on the incident, went looking for Larry Smich at the tournament. Interestingly enough, Smich couldn’t be found. The golfer who he was caddying for, Stephanie Loudon, had her husband carrying her bag for the third round.
At the moment, the golf tournament is on television, and so far as I know, no mention has been made of the Ahn and Chung incident.
Deliberate cheating in professional golf is very serious and not unheard of. A Latin American player was suspended by the PGA Tour around 40 years ago. Jane Blalock was suspended for a year by the LPGA in 1972. That was till she filed a antitrust lawsuit. The accusations against Blalock was probably the sport’s biggest cheating scandal of the last 50 years. She was one of the tour’s stars at the time. What we have today involves two fairly obscure players. I don’t know if we’ll ever learn what did happen. The golf media rather write repetitive article after repetitive article on Tiger Woods than give the LPGA even five minutes of their time.
On a side note, Michelle Wie is leading the Canadian Open. Should she hold on to win, the LPGA attention deficit might decrease at least for one week.
Note- The first photo above is Ahn and the second is Chung.