Donna Andrews knew she did the right thing, but the price of her honesty – a self-imposed one-stroke penalty – proved to be the margin of her defeat. And that, she said, was “hard to swallow.”
While Andrews was left to ponder what might have been, LPGA second-year player Gloria Park earned her first victory at the inaugural Williams Championship Sept. 9. Park, who shot 9-under-par 201, was the third consecutive first-time winner, following Heather Daly-Donofrio at the Betsy King Classic and Kate Golden at the State Farm Classic. That’s the longest breakthrough streak since there were four consecutive first-time champions in 1995.
Entering the last round of the tournament, Andrews held a four-stroke lead thanks to a second-round 8-under 62, setting a new standard at the 6,233-yard Tulsa Country Club course. But had she not called a penalty stroke on herself on the 18th hole for double-hitting the ball on a putt, Andrews would have shot 61. The infraction was noticed only by her.
“But I think I wouldn’t have played as well today if I had that in the back of my mind, that I had not done the right thing,” she said after her final-round 70. “I wouldn’t have felt good about myself. That’s what is really important in the game of life.”
Park did feel good about herself, but she kept her emotions in check on the way to a first-place prize of $150,000. The 21-year-old South Korean, who makes her home in Australia, stayed calm as she shot 64 Sunday, which included a double bogey, to make up a five-stroke deficit and edge Andrews.
“I wasn’t thinking about winning, first of all,” said Park, who vaulted 18 spots to No. 59 on the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index. “I just wanted to try as best I can do. I just play a really good game, I guess, today.”
Park took the lead with a 5-foot birdie putt at No. 17. Andrews had a chance to tie on 18, but her 50-footer slid by the cup.
Park’s double bogey came on No. 10 and it cost her the lead, but she recovered with birdies on Nos. 12, 13 and 16.
Andrews had taken the lead with a birdie on No. 11 and went to 8 under with another birdie on 15, but she parred out and couldn’t catch Park.
Andrews, a six-time winner who last won at the 1998 Longs Drugs Challenge, shot 29 on the front nine Saturday and 33 on the back, including the penalty stroke. But Sunday she had only two birdies, which were offset by two bogeys.
Park, meanwhile, was the only player in the field to shoot three rounds under 70, including 68 on the first day when only four players broke par in 30 mph gusts.
The Williams Championship marked the LPGA’s first visit to Oklahoma since the 1983 U.S. Women’s Open, which also was held in Tulsa. Jan Stephenson triumphed that year, winning her third major championship title in three seasons.
– From staff and wire reports