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Park wins U.S. Open for third major of 2013

The SportsXchange

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. - Inbee Park was just a few holes from making history, and she appeared to be playing a practice round on Sunday. Park seldom shows emotion during a round of golf, but she finally cracked a smile walking toward the 18th green, with the U.S. Women's Open Trophy waiting for her.

"I was very calm all day," Park said. "I don't feel a lot of pressure on the golf course. I tried to stay calm, and I think I did."

In what became a two-player race, Park, the world's top-ranked golfer, beat out I.K. Kim by four strokes to win the 68th U.S. Women's Open at Sebonack.

It was Park's third major title of the year, becoming the fourth player to win three majors in one year and only the second to win the first three of the season.

The others who won three majors in a year were Babe Zaharias (1950), Mickey Wright (1961) and Pat Bradley (1986). Park joined Zaharias as the only players to win the first three majors.

"I'm just honored to be mentioned with Babe Zaharias," Park said. "I don't know what I just did today. If I thought about what I was doing, I wouldn't have been able to stand," she added with a smile.

It was Park's second U.S. Women's Open win of her career, the first coming in 2008. It also was Park's sixth straight LPGA Tour victory.

"I just hope this is not a dream. I don't want to wake up tomorrow and play another round again," Park said. "It feels great to be able to put my name on this trophy twice."

Park shot a 2-over-par 74 in the final round to finish at 8-under for the tournament.

Only three players finished under par for the tournament. One of those was Kim, who also shot a 2-over 74 on Sunday.

Paired with Kim for the final round, Park parred her first five holes while Kim birdied two and bogeyed four in her first six holes.

Park left the door open for Kim momentarily, with two bogeys on six and seven, but the pursuer could not take advantage as she bogeyed both holes as well.

"I had a really good chance out there," Kim said. "If I putted a little better this week I think I could've pushed it a little bit more."

That's when Park kicked things back into gear with birdies on nine (with a tap-in) and on 10 (with an 18-foot breaker that found the hole), building a six-stroke lead with eight holes remaining.

Park merely limited her mistakes the rest of the way. She made par on six of the last eight holes. She also had bogeys on 14 and 15, but the cushion she had was more than enough.

"I knew third place was a little farther back, but I just knew I had to play better than I.K." said Park. "I had some bogeys, but I wasn't looking at the leaderboard, just at what she was doing."

Park finished with a par to a standing ovation on the 18th hole followed by a champagne bath from So Yeon Ryu and Na Yeon Choi.

Kim finished 4-under for the tournament.

"I started off well, had good up and downs. I had a good opportunity, but I made her [Park] comfortable," Kim said. "It was hard to make mistakes. It's disappointing but I was still pleased with how I played."

Ryu finished in third place at 1-under after shooting even par on the day. Birdies on eight, 13 and 15 helped her to her second third-place finish this season.

A consistent outing from Paula Creamer enabled her to tie Angela Stanford and Jodi Ewart Shadoff at 1-over for fourth place. Creamer, like Ryu, managed to stay even on on the final round, but Stanford shot 2-over and Shadoff 4-over.

Twenty year-old Jessica Korda, fresh off firing her caddy in the middle of the third round and giving her boyfriend the clubs, finished 1-over in the final round and 2-over for the tournament.

"It's a top-10 [finish], so I'm not going to complain about that," Korda said after finishing tied for seventh. "This is my sixth U.S. Open, so I would say this one had, by far, the toughest greens and was the windiest."

But in the end, it was all about Park, who will have the opportunity to become the first golfer, male or female, to win all four majors in one season when she plays the Women's British Open starting August 1.

"You all are putting too much pressure on me," Park said jokingly. "It would mean so much if I could win a grand slam. It will be a great experience whether I do it or not but I'm going to try. I don't know what I'm capable of doing from now on."
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