Inbee Park approached the 17th tee two back of the lead and needing to make noise on two of the toughest holes on the course to put pressure on Brittany Lincicome, who led by two shots.
As major champions tend to do, Park came through when it mattered most, draining a birdie on the 17th hole then coming through with a crucial 15-foot par putt on the final hole to push Lincicome into a play-off at 11-under-par. Again, with the pressure on, Park headed back to the 18th tee and made a par on the toughest hole on the course to not only defend her title but win in a play-off for the second straight time at this major championship.
“I think it’s very lucky that I actually got an opportunity today, because you know, I thought I probably won’t get an opportunity with Brittany coming up the last and if she made a par I would not have gone into playoff,” Park said. “And I holed really good putts on number 17 and 18 to put me in the playoffs. So yeah, just very happy the way I played today.”
Park’s fifth major - and 11th tour victory - came as a bitter disappointment for Lincicome, who three-putted from about 35 feet just off the green. Her ball rested up against the collar and she left it about eight feet short, narrowly missing the par putt to send her into a playoff with Park. When both hit it just off the green on the first playoff hole, Park got up and down and Lincicome didn’t to garner Park’s second win of the season.
Park had lost in the week prior at the LPGA Meijer Classic in a Playoff to Mirim Lee, and she was incredibly pleased that she was able to get back in the winner’s circle the final time the LPGA Championship will visit Rochester after 38 years in one of golf’s greatest cities.
“This is probably one of the favorite weeks that we - for me and probably for all the LPGA players to come and kind of stay for a week, and yeah, this tournament has the history, and this tournament has all the memories with us,” Park said. “So being able to put my name on this trophy twice and being able to do it here in Rochester is such a great honor, and yeah, we’ll be missing Rochester. We definitely want to come back here for another event.”
Lydia Ko, who started the day four back, made a charge at Park and Lincicome in regulation, climbing to within one of the lead heading to the 17th tee, but she bogeyed the final two holes to finish in solo third at 8-under-par. Azahara Munoz and Anna Nordqvist finished in a tie for 4th at 6-under-par.
Suzann Pettersen was one back entering the final round and after a third-round 67, she had to be the favorite. She’d been there before and no one was hitting it better.
But it seemed to go all wrong from the opening tee ball, which she blasted right into the trees. She would go on to make double and never rallied. She bogeyed three more holes on the front to go out in 41 and relinquish any chance she had at pushing the leaders. Her final-round 76 was the second worst final round in a major of her career and left her in a tie for 6th.
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