Sunday’s golf roundup: Inbee Park wins LPGA Championship
Pittsford, N.Y. — Calm under the intense pressure of a playoff at a major, Inbee Park added another title to her impressive LPGA Tour resume.
Park successfully defended her title in the LPGA Championship, beating Brittany Lincicome with a par on the first hole of a playoff Sunday to end the United States’ major streak at three.
“I didn’t feel that nervous at all today,” said Park, also a playoff winner last year. “But once I got to the tee on the playoff hole, I just felt the nerves right away. It was like a replay of last year and experience definitely helped me out. I think I was able to stay calm.”
The victory came on a bittersweet day when the LPGA Tour bade farewell to the Rochester area after 38 years. Next year, the tour will team with the PGA of America to run the Women’s PGA Championship. The 2015 event will be played at Westchester Country Club near New York City.
Park, Nancy Lopez and Patty Sheehan are only players to win twice in a row in Rochester.
“Just very happy to be part of history,” Park said.
Lincicome was poised to win her second major and keep that American streak alive, but her nerves got the best of her after she led all day.
“Not being in this position for a while, I think it all caught up with me,” Lincicome said. “Being second at a major is always a good thing. I feel like I played really, really well this week. If I keep playing the way I did, my time’s coming soon. It was nice to be in contention again.”
On the playoff hole on Monroe Golf Club’s par-4 18th, Park hit her second shot into the rough behind the hole. Lincicome hit her approach to the left fringe, nearly identical to her position on the final hole of regulation when she made a bogey to fall into the playoff.
Lincicome chipped 6 feet past the hole and failed to convert for bogey. Park, the winner last year at Locust Hill on the third extra hole with Catriona Matthew, chipped to 3 feet and calmly sank her par putt for her fifth major title and fourth in the last two seasons.
“Inbee is so darn good. It was so close,” Lincicome said. “I need to learn how to control the nerves a little bit more.”
Park finished with a 2-under 70 to match Lincicome at 11-under 276. Lincicome had a 71.
Americans had won the first three majors of the LPGA Tour season for the first time since 1999. Lexi Thompson began the run at Kraft Nabisco, Michelle Wie won the U.S. Women’s Open and Mo Martin the Women’s British Open.
The 26-year-old Park, from South Korea, was coming off a playoff loss to Mirim Lee last week in Michigan. Park also won this season in Canada and has 11 LPGA Tour victories.
Park is projected to jump from third to second in the world, passing 17-year-old Lydia Ko of New Zealand. Ko, trying to become the youngest major winner in LPGA history, shot a 70 to finish third at 8 under.
Spain’s Azahara Munoz (70) and Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist (71) tied for fourth at 6 under.
Lincicome squandered the lead on the final hole of regulation. She hit her second shot to the left fringe and was in a good spot, but a long delay for a ruling on a shot by Suzann Pettersen only heightened the tension, and it showed.
With top-ranked Stacy Lewis among the gallery clapping, Lincicome left her first putt 8 feet short and failed to make par, forcing the playoff.
“I was really nervous coming down the stretch. I was shaking like a leaf,” Lincicome said. “It’s hard to do anything when you’re shaking.”
Pettersen, a two-time major winner, started the day a shot behind as she chased her first win this year. But her day went badly at the start and she shot 4-over 76. She tied for sixth at 5 under with Lewis, Julieta Granada, Shanshan Feng and Lee.
Park’s clutch birdie putt at No. 17 put her in position to challenge and her par save at 18 was crucial. Her approach on the closing hole landed in the rough to the right of the green and she botched her shot out. Her 12-foot putt left no margin for error and the crowd roared when it rolled in.
Lincicome had held the 54-hole lead at a major only once before, at the 2006 U.S. Women’s Open, but she faltered with a closing 78 and finished seventh. This time, she shook off the nerves until the end as the chance to win her second major ended in disappointment. Lincicome won the 2009 Kraft Nabisco.
The tour made the switch this year to Monroe after 37 years at nearby Locust Hill. The Donald Ross-designed course is about 300 yards longer at 6,717 yards and does not have a single water hazard, but it does feature 106 bunkers, more than double the number at Locust Hill, and the wider fairways favored long hitters.
Camilo Villegas won the Wyndham Championship by a stroke for his first PGA Tour victory since 2010, closing with 7-under 63 at Sedgefield.
He finished at 17-under 263 and earned $954,000 and 500 FedEx Cup points in the final regular-season event.
The Colombian had four birdies and an eagle on the front nine, added a birdie on the par-5 15th and took the lead into the clubhouse.
He then watched the rest of the field stumble late, giving him his fourth PGA Tour title and first since the 2010 Honda Classic.
Bill Haas and Freddie Jacobson tied for second. Haas had a 64, and Jacobson shot 66. Jacobson needed a par on the final hole to force a playoff, but he rolled his 11-foot putt inches past the hole.
Dick’s Sporting Goods Open
Bernhard Langer rallied to win the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open for his fifth Champions Tour victory of the year, while Kevin Sutherland followed his tour-record 59 with a 74 to tie for seventh.
The 56-year-old Langer played all 54 holes without a bogey, closing with a 6-under 66 for a one-stroke victory over Woody Austin and Mark O’Meara. Langer finished at 16-under 200 at En-Joie for his 23rd career victory on the 50-and-over tour.
Sutherland, the second-round leader, had five bogeys — four on the first 10 holes — and three birdies in the final round. Playing his third Champions Tour event since turning 50 in June, he finished at 12 under.
Langer, tied for fifth with Bob Charles on the tour victory list, earned $277,500 to increase his tour-leading total to $2,652,520. The German has three victories in his last five starts.
South Korea’s Gunn Yang completed his improbable run to the U.S. Amateur title with a 2-and-1 victory over Canada’s Corey Conners.
At No. 776, Yang became the lowest-ranked player in the world amateur standings to win the event. Along the way, he beat five players inside the top 100, including the 44th-ranked Conners.
News Sentinel Open
Martin Piller won the News Sentinel Open to give himself a chance to earn a PGA Tour card through the regular-season money list.
The 28-year-old Piller, married to LPGA Tour player Gerina Piller, shot an 8-under 63 at Fox Den for a two-stroke victory over former Texas A&M teammate Bronson Burgoon.
Made in Denmark
Scotland’s Marc Warren won the Made in Denmark tournament for his third European Tour title, beating Wales’ Bradley Dredge by two strokes.
Warren closed with a 3-under 68 to finish at 9-under 275. Dredge shot 70.
Australia’s Steven Jeffress won the inaugural Fiji International, closing with a 2-under 70 for a four-stroke victory.
Jeffress finished at 10-under 278 in the event sanctioned by the Australasian and OneAsia tours. Three-time major winner Vijay Singh of Fiji, the designer of the Natadola Bay course, had a 73 to tie for 10th — 12 strokes behind Jeffress.
Marissa Steen won the Eagle Classic for her third Symetra Tour title of the year, earning $15,000 to jump from second to first on the money list with $75,348.