South Korean star Park In-Bee won the Women’s PGA Championship for the third year in a row on Sunday to return to number one in the world in dominant style.
Park finished with a five-under-par 68 for a record-equaling 19-under total of 273 and a huge five-shot victory over compatriot Kim Sei-Young in the second major of the LPGA season.
Park joined Swedish great Annika Sorenstam as the only players to win three successive editions of the tournament which was formerly known as the LPGA Championship and was rebranded this year in a collaboration between the LPGA and the PGA of America.
And the 26-year-old did it in commanding fashion, chipping to five feet at the final hole and rolling in the putt for her fifth birdie of another bogey-free day.
“I don’t know what word can describe how I feel right now,” said Park, whose 19-under total matched the lowest score in relation to par in the tournament’s history, achieved previously by Cristie Kerr in 2010 and Taiwan’s Yani Tseng in 2011.
“I played great,” added Park. “The last three days I couldn’t believe myself — I made no bogeys for three days!”
Kim, who started the day two strokes behind Park, tried to keep the pressure on. But Park’s precision — she played the last 56 holes of the tournament without a bogey — left Kim no room for error.
The LPGA rookie was keeping pace when her string of four birdies in a row ended with a double-bogey at the par-five ninth — where her bogey putt circled inside the edge of the hole and popped out.
Park birdied the same hole, and the three-shot swing proved too much to overcome.
“Everything fell apart at the ninth hole,” Kim said.
Kim — who shocked Park in a playoff at the Lotte Championship this season — finished with a two-under 71 on the par-73 Westchester Country Club’s West course for 278.
American Lexi Thompson, who nabbed eight birdies in her first 13 holes, finished in third on 280 after a seven-under 66.
With her sixth major title, Park is assured of returning to number one in the world.
She’ll supplant 18-year-old New Zealander Lydia Ko, whose missed cut on Friday was a first in her precocious pro career.
American Brittany Lincicome, who won the first women’s major of the year at the ANA Inspiration, finished in fourth after a 68 for 281.
Sensational 17-year-old Canadian Brooke Henderson carded a final-round 71 to share fifth place on 282 with American Morgan Pressel, who signed for a 70.