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Rookie Park captures US Women's Open


park sung-hyun us women's open at trump national South Korea's super-solid Park Sung-Hyun fired a second consecutive 5-under par 67 to capture her first Major title at the US Women's Open at Trump National at Bedminster in New Jersey on Sunday.

There wasn't an American rival in sight as Park, the event's 7th South Korean winner in 10 years, closed with an 11-under 277 to defeat 17-year-old South Korean amateur Choi Hye-Jin (71) by two strokes, two more Koreans , Hur Mi-Jung (68) and Ryu So-Yeon (70), the World No 1, by four shots, and Spain's Carlota Ciganda (70), Korea's Lee Jeong-Eun (71) and China's Shanshan Feng (75) by five.

The highest-placed American in what many regard as the nation's premier women's golf championship was Marina Alex (70) who tied for 11th place with a Korean-born Australian, Minjee Lee (66) - and US President Donald Trump, who so strongly champions "America First" and who watched the final round, might have wished he'd given the event a wide berth.

Park, an LPGA Tour rookie who won seven times on the Korean LPGA Tour last year and looks set to win a lot more times on the world's premier US-based LPGA Tour, was deadlocked for the lead with Choi until she sank a six-foot birdie putt at the par-4 17th, her fourth and final birdie of the round on the day's hardest hole,.

It edged her ahead, but she looked to be in trouble when her approach at the narrow, water-guarded final hole, ran over the green and down a steep embankment leaving her with a nightmare chip onto a downhill lie with water close behind the pin.

If her chip overran the green and found water she would lose. If it came up short and she failed to make an up and down for a par, she would be forced to go into a playoff with Choi.

But nothing of the sort occurred. Her chip was a thing of brilliance under extreme pressure, rolling to within two feet of the pin to make her winning par putt an easy one.

Ironically China's Shanshan Feng, who lead after each the first three rounds when she had posted only one bogey, was hoping to become the first US Women's Open wire-to-wire winner since American Hollis Stacy in 1977 and was playing behind Park at the back of the field, faced an almost identical chip at the very same hole.

The difference was she blew herself out contention and into joint 5th place when he first chip failed to make the green and rolled back down the embankment, her second chip ran well past the hole but stopped just short of the water, her first putt stopped short, and her next ringed the hole before she finally sank the ball for a hugely hurtful triple bogey.

Park, who led by two shots after 36 holes in her US Women's Open debut last year, but closed with back-to-back 74s and settled for a share of third, said of her triumph this year: "When I was about to hit the fourth shot (that chip at the last), my mind just went blank, but my caddie kept encouraging me so I calmed down and made my shot. When it went close I was delighted," Park said.

"I did not have the best first and second rounds. I wanted to believe in myself for the remaining rounds and it certainly helped trusting myself."

Trump, who gave Park a "thumbs up" sign after her victory, watched from an enclosed viewing area near the 15th green.

He was welcomed by most spectators despite the outrage sparked by his controversial remarks about women during his presidential campaign.

With Trump watching, Park birdied the par-5 15th to seize the lead at 10-under but Choi followed with a six-foot birdie putt to match her.

Then just as Choi was beginning to look as if she might become the youngest ever winner of a Major, the 17-year-old found the water with her tee shot at the 139-yard, par-3 16th and finished with a double bogey that dropped her two back after Park birdied 17, her 12th birdie in 26 holes.

Choi hit back with a birdie at 18, but it left her one shot shy of victory and in sole possession of second place after Feng's final hole disaster.

"There were some disappointing parts but I'm happy I was able to play very well in this tournament," Choi said, using a translator as had Park.

"I was hitting the ball perfectly. On 16 (where she found water short of the green) I was trying to hit it even more perfectly and that is what made it a missed shot."

(Par 72)

277 Park Sung-Hyun (KOR) 73-70-67-67
279 Choi Hye-Jin(A) (KOR) 69-69-70-71
281 Hur Mi-Jung (KOR) 71-72-70-68, Ryu So-Yeon (KOR) 68-72-71-70
282 Carlota Ciganda (ESP) 69-71-72-70, Lee Jeong-Eun6 (KOR) 69-69-73-71, Shanshan Feng (CHN) 66-70-71-75
283 Kim Sei-Young (KOR) 69-73-72-69, Amy Yang (KOR) 67-71-70-75, Lee Mi-Rim (KOR) 70-74-67-72
284 Minjee Lee (AUS) 69-72-77-66, Marina Alex (USA) 71-70-73-70
285 Brooke Henderson (CAN) 70-71-73-71, Ji Eun-Hee (KOR) 73-71-69-72
286 Moriya Jutanugarn (THA) 71-75-71-69, Chun In-Gee (KOR) 70-70-76-70, Lizette Salas (USA) 71-73-71-71, Ko Jin-Young (KOR) 73-72-70-71
287 Bae Seon-Woo (KOR) 70-69-74-74, Cristie Kerr (USA) 69-73-70-75
288 Jessica Korda (USA) 75-69-73-71, Yan Jing (CHN) 71-74-72-71, Jennifer Kupcho (A) (USA) 74-72-71-71, Jenny Shin (KOR) 71-72-72-73, Charley Hull (ENG) 72-70-73-73, Jane Park (USA) 72-72-71-73
289 Ashleigh Buhai (RSA) 70-72-76-71, Stacy Lewis (USA) 71-71-76-71, Sandra Gal (GER) 71-74-73-71, Lexi Thompson (USA) 71-72-74-72, Megan Khang (USA) 69-74-73-73, Christina Kim (USA)75-71-68-75.

Neville Leck

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