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Park earns fifth LPGA win of season in playoff

The SportsXchange

ROGERS, Ark. -- Inbee Park won for the fifth time this LPGA season, holing a four-foot birdie putt on the first hole of a playoff with So Yeon Ryu to capture the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship on Sunday at Pinnacle Country Club.

Park, the No. 1 player in the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings, improved to 2-1 in her career in playoffs, with the other victory coming two weeks ago at the Wegmans LPGA Championship.

She trailed four players atop the leaderboard by two shots heading into Sunday's final round, but closed with a 4-under-par 67 to finish even with Ryu, her South Korean compatriot.

Park quickly moved into final-round contention with birdies on the sixth, seventh and eighth holes.

After a bogey at the par-3 11th, Park used a birdie on the par-5 14th to move back to 11-under, then closed out with the birdie at the par-5 18th to finish at 12-under 201.

Park then watched as Ryu, playing one group behind, closed her round with an eight-foot birdie putt to close out a 69 and force the third playoff in NW Arkansas Championship history.

After a near perfect drive on the 18th in the playoff, Park's approach was short and left of the green. But her third shot settled four feet from the hole.

Ryu missed the fairway and was forced to lay up short of the green in the playoff. Her approach sailed over the green and her birdie chip slipped past the hole before Park holed the winning putt.

Mika Miyazato of Japan, the opening round leader with a 65, finished one shot back after a closing with a 67. Miyazato had to settle for a par on the 18th hole and wasn't able to join the playoff.

Park's five victories this season on the LPGA Tour include wins in the first two majors this season, the Kraft Nabisco Championship and the LPGA Championship.

She will try for the third straight major victory in the U.S. Women's Open, which starts Thursday at Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y.

Stacy Lewis, the local fan favorite who was a four-time all-American at nearby University of Arkansas, entered Sunday tied for the lead with Chie Arimura of Japan, Beatriz Recari of Spain and Ryu.

But Lewis struggled to find her groove and finished at 71 to tie for fourth, while Recari and Arimura both shot 72 and tied for seventh.

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