The final day of the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore was all set up for a dramatic conclusion, and it certainly did not disappoint.From a Korean perspective, before Sundays play, there was a great sense of optimism that three wins in three weeks for the Korean ladies was very much a distinct possibility, but uncertainty over which player could achieve this.
Could Sung Hyun Park win her first tournament as an LPGA member? Could Inbee Park claim the title for the second time after winning in 2015? Could defending champion Ha Na Jang add another trophy to her 2017 cabinet, after winning the Australian Women’s Open two weeks ago? Or maybe in-form So Yeon Ryu could come from seven shots back to upset the odds? Overnight leader by two shots, Michelle Wie was the one to catch, but also in the mix on the final day was world number one and two Lydia Ko and Ariya Jutanugarn. The stage was set and the finale surpassed all expectations.
After a relatively routine opening few holes, an unexpected double bogey 7 on hole number five by Wie left the tournament wide open for a number of players to capitalize. Step forward Inbee Park, who started the day 3 shots off the lead and was just playing her second tournament since winning gold at the Rio Olympics.
A blistering run of 7 birdies in 8 holes for Park put her out in front by 3 shots, with 6 holes left to play. She picked up another birdie on number 14, but Jutanugarn remained within 2 shots, with her own run of birdies. It seemed likely that the winner would come from this duo, but in the group behind, back to back birdies for Sung Hyun Park kept her within 3 shots, with 4 holes left to play.
Inbee Park and Jutanugarn both parred the par 5 16th, giving Sung Hyun Park the opportunity to gain ground in the group behind. Although that didn’t last too long, as both Park and Jutanugarn birdied the par 3 17th, leaving Park with a two stroke lead on the 18th tee. She bogeyed the last, but still set a new course record 64 and won by a single shot.
So the week ended with Inbee Park claiming her second HSBC Women’s Champions title, setting a new course record, her eighteenth LPGA Tour title, letting the rest of the LPGA Tour know that the former world number one and current Olympic champion is back to her best.
Everything went right for Park this week, who thought it would take a few months to adjust back to competitive action. This week’s outcome is very promising for the year ahead.
Although Sung Hyun Park had very realistic hopes of winning on her full LPGA Tour debut, she will undoubtedly be pleased with this week’s performance. She had hoped for a top 15 finish this week, so third place on her own will give extra confidence for her rookie LPGA Tour season.
This was her first tournament in 5 months and it is expected that she will be in the winners circle very soon. In addition to Park’s victory, it was a satisfying week for many other Korean ladies too, as four more finished inside the top 9.
Defending champion Ha Na Jang, who played alongside Inbee Park, finished off a good week, with a final round 69 and T-4th.
After a disappointing opening round 73, So Yeon Ryu back to back 66’s over the weekend elevated her up to T-7th. Her last five tournaments now read: 5th, 3rd, 2nd,2nd, 7th.
Chella Choi equalled Ryu’s 66 to finish in T-9th, and maintain her consistent start to 2017.
Alongside Choi, was Mirim Lee, who set a new course record, if only for a few hours, with a flawless 65.
Next up in two weeks, it’s back to America for the Founders Cup, with Sei Young Kim as the defending champion. This result in Singapore makes it three wins in three weeks for Korean ladies, and three Korean winners in a row of the HSBC Women’s Champions. The domination continues.
First up, I suppose I better say hello and thank you for visiting my website, whoever you are. I teach, I write, I caddy, I write, I travel, I write. Mostly, about golf if that interests you. Usually interviews for various publications and blog about my caddy adventures.