Connect to share and comment

Park In-bee comes up short in bid to win fourth consecutive major

PlacardEnlarge
(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

ST ANDREWS, Scotland, Aug. 4 (Yonhap) -- South Korean Park In-bee came up well short in her bid to win her fourth LPGA major in a row on Sunday, finishing tied for 42nd at the Ricoh Women's British Open.

Park closed out the tournament with a 6-over 78 on Sunday at the par-72 Old Course at St Andrews, 14 shots behind the champion, Stacy Lewis of the United States. Park ended her tournament at 6-over 294.

Having captured the first three majors of 2013, Park was trying to become the first golfer, male or female, to win four straight professional majors in the same season.

The world No. 1 opened her quest for the historic grand slam with a solid 3-under 69 on Thursday, but then stumbled to 73-74-78 over the next three rounds.

Park began her final round with a double bogey, and recorded six more bogeys against just two birdies.

Park played under a massive amount of scrutiny all week, and the pressure-packed pursuit of history ultimately got the better of the 25-year-old.

Park said she hadn't thought much about the grand slam before the tournament, but once it got underway, she started to feel the pressure.

She said, however, she still enjoyed the experience.

"I learned so much from this tournament," Park told South Korean reporters afterward. "I've never experienced anything like this, and this tournament gave me the confidence that I can play under any circumstance."

Park, who entered the tournament ranked first on the LPGA Tour with 28.52 putts per round, lamented that she couldn't adjust to the changing speed of the greens at St. Andrews. She took a whopping 143 putts in her four rounds here, including 40 on the final day.

"The biggest reason that I didn't win this week was that I couldn't figure out the greens," she said. "They were fast yesterday and got slower today."

Strong gusts of wind suspended the third round play on Saturday, and Park only completed four holes before resuming play early Sunday. She said she was "feeling great" on Saturday and was actually disappointed that play was halted.

In addition to her three majors in 2013 -- the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the Wegmans LPGA Championship and the U.S. Women's Open -- Park has won three other LPGA events. Despite stumbling in Scotland, Park holds a sizeable lead in money and the Player of the Year points race over Lewis.

Park can still win her fourth major in 2013. The Evian Championship, set for Sept. 12 to 15 in France, has been upgraded to a major tournament starting this year. Park won the event last year when it was called the Evian Masters. She said she hopes to build on her experience from the Women's British Open in her preparation for the Evian Championship and future events.

"I have a long career ahead of me," she said. "I will keep trying harder and harder in the future."

Park is scheduled to arrive in South Korea on Tuesday to rest. The LPGA Tour's next stop will be the CN Canadian Women's Open starting on Aug. 22.

Later at her post-tournament press conference, Park said she wants to "relax for two or three days just doing nothing" because she feels exhausted after being "in the center of everything for a week."

She also conceded that she found it difficult to stay motivated after starting her final round with a double bogey.

"I really tried to push myself to play as good as I can, but the course was playing quite tough," she said. "I didn't really putt well out there today."

Park may have lost her bid for history but she managed to find time to reflect on her week.

"I've done something amazing this season, winning three (majors) in a row," Park said. "I don't even know if I can do that again. That's going to be really tough. It might take a long time to beat that record."

She also offered a positive spin on playing under so much pressure all week, saying, "I never had this many people rooting for me. So that has been nice."

Two other South Korean golfers in the tournament, Choi Na-yeon and Park Hee-young, tied for second behind Lewis at 6-under 282.

Choi blew a three-shot lead with six holes to play on Sunday, closing with a 1-over 73. She got to 9-under with a birdie on the 10th hole, but then committed bogeys on the 13th and 14th, and again on the 17th.

Park also shot a 1-over 73 in the final round. She made three straight bogeys starting on the 12th hole, before salvaging her final round with a birdie on the 16th.

Lewis trailed Choi by three shots at one point but picked up three birdies over her last five holes for her second career LPGA major.

Choi played 36 holes on Sunday following the suspension of the third round on Saturday, and said she felt tired over her final six holes.

"My focus wasn't bad, and I think I missed a lot of putts out there," Choi, world No. 4, told her post-tournament press conference. "I need to keep working on my putting, especially speed. We have one more major tournament, so we'll see."

Choi admitted she watched the leaderboard down the stretch and felt extra pressure when Lewis started to make her move.

"I watched it a little because I thought I was leading, and then after (my) two bogeys, I thought I have to check," she said. "A couple of holes later, Stacy went up. She got birdies on 17th and 18th. That's huge on this golf course. She was playing better than me. I think that's why she won and I think I have to accept that."

Lewis snapped the winning streak at LPGA majors by Asian golfers at 10, dating back to the 2011 LPGA Championship. She had been the last non-Asian to win an LPGA major, taking the 2011 Kraft Nabisco Championship. Yani Tseng of Taiwan, Feng Shanshan of China and five different South Koreans claimed all following majors until Lewis' win on Sunday.

<All rights reserved by Yonhap News Agency>

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/yonhap-news-agency/130804/park-bee-comes-short-bid-win-fourth-consecutive-major-0