Comment
0
Tweet
0
Print
RSS Feeds

Inbee Park runs away with Kraft Nabisco title

Monday - 4/8/2013, 11:52am  ET

Inbee Park, of South Korea, holds up the trophy after winning the LPGA Kraft Nabisco Championship golf tournament in Rancho Mirage, Calif., Sunday, April 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

JOHN NICHOLSON
AP Sports Writer

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. (AP) -- Inbee Park stopped her father from making the trip from South Korea for the final round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

He'll still get to sample one of the victory spoils when she showers him with water she collected from Poppie's Pond after the traditional winner's leap.

"When I see him next week in Hawaii, I'm going to pour it over him," Park said. "Yeah, that's what he wanted."

He was all to set join her at Mission Hills.

"He packed his bags and booked a ticket and everything and he was on his way," Park said. "I called him and, like, said, 'Just don't come.' He was very mad because he really wanted to come. But really it was tough stopping him, but he actually listened to me. ... I stopped him because if he came, I would want to win so bad but that might be on my mind playing today."

Any drama left Sunday was gone a few minutes after the final group teed off. Robbing the event of another exciting finish, Park doubled her lead to six strokes over playing partner Lizette Salas on the par-4 opening hole and ran away with her second major title.

Park made a 20-foot birdie putt, showing off a putting touch unmatched in women's golf, and Salas had a messy double bogey for a three-stroke swing.

"That made my day much easier, that's for sure," Park said.

The 2008 U.S. Women's Open winner at Interlachen, the 24-year-old Park closed with a 3-under 69 to finish at 15 under, four strokes ahead of fellow South Korean player So Yeon Ryu.

"It had been a while since I won a major. It feels very special," said Park, the third straight South Korean major winner and the eighth in a row from Asia.

She's the third South Korean to don the winner's bathrobe after the plunge in Poppie's Pond, following Grace Park in 2004 and Sun Young Yoo last year.

"It was great," Park said. "That's the pond I've always wanted to jump in and I finally jumped in. It was a little bit chilly, though."

She also jumped from fourth to second in the world with her fifth LPGA Tour title and ninth worldwide win.

"I only have one more spot to go," Park said.

Park has four victories in her last 16 events. She won the LPGA Thailand in February in her season debut when Ariya Jutanugarn closed with a triple bogey to blow a two-stroke lead.

"I've played five tournaments on the LPGA Tour and I've won two of them, which is a very good start," Park said. "It's pressure off me for the rest of the season."

Last year, Park won twice, had six runner-up finishes and topped the money list. She won the Evian Masters in July in France, tied for third in her next start, added three straight second-place finishes and capped the run with a victory in October in the LPGA Malaysia.

"I've seen Inbee do this before," top-ranked Stacy Lewis said. "I played with her at Evian last year when she had, I think, 22 or 23 putts in the final round. When she rolls it, you can't beat her. She's the best putter on tour. The course here is a little softer than normal, so I think that's to her advantage."

The 22-year-old Ryu, playing five groups ahead of Park, shot a bogey-free 65 -- the best round of the week. Ryu is close friends with Park and they played a practice round together before the tournament.

"She looks like she played another golf course," said Ryu, the 2011 U.S. Women's Open champion. "This golf course is really hard, and especially before we started the tournament, she really worried about the game because her ball flight is a little low, but this golf course has pretty firm greens, so she said, 'Oh, I don't think I can stop it on the greens because my ball flight is too low.' ... I think she was lying to me."

Salas, the 23-year-old former University of Southern California player who grew up west of Los Angeles in Azusa, had a 79 to tie for 25th at 2 under.

"Obviously, I'm not very pleased," Salas said. "Very disappointed in myself."

After Park's low drive bounded down the middle of the fairway, Salas -- dressed in Trojans cardinal and gold -- hit into the deep left rough, 30 yards behind Park. Salas topped her second shot, advancing the ball only 15 yards, and left her third about 15 yards short of the green.

   1 2  -  Next page  >>