Inbee Park closes in 64 to win HSBC Women's Champions in return from injury

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Inbee Park closes in 64 to win HSBC Women's Champions in return from injury

LPGA Tour

Inbee Park closes in 64 to win HSBC Women's Champions in return from injury

Break? What break? Inbee Park popped into the winner’s circle after taking six months off from the game like it was nothing. Putts fell from everywhere on Sunday. She poured in nine birdies to come from three back and hold off the hottest players on tour with a closing a 8-under 64.

The reserved Park made statement in Singapore: She’s back in a big way.

“Today was pretty much, everything I looked at, it wanted to drop in,” said Park, who hit 17 greens (her first miss coming on the 18th hole) and took only 27 putts.

It wasn’t that long ago that an ailing Park struggled to finish tournaments to even qualify for the LPGA Hall of Fame. A lingering thumb injury made her future on tour seem doubtful. But then she shocked the golf world in Rio by taking Olympic gold after a two-month break.

At the HSBC Women’s Champions, Park stunned once again, winning in only her second start since last August.

“It surprises me, as well,” said Park, “because I thought it may take maybe a couple months to kind of get back out on the tour and to get my rhythm back.”

Park’s goal for 2017 was to win another major. The 28-year-old has seven to her credit thus far. A victory so early in Singapore signals that an even bigger year might be on tap.

The leaderboard on Sunday featured the hottest players on tour with World No. 1 Lydia Ko and No. 2 Ariya Jutanguarn in the mix along with recent winner Ha Na Jang, Brooke Henderson and hotshot rookie Sung Hyun Park. Park casually took them all down with her steady and stoic approach.

It was clinical.

“I learned a lot from her,” said Jutanugarn, who played alongside Park and finished one shot back. “She’s very calm. I feel like she makes every putt.”

While Park made the closing statement, the final round began with great anticipation regarding Michelle Wie.

Golf fans on the East Coast stayed up late to see if Wiesy could pull off her first victory since the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open. Wie, playing on a sponsor exemption, had one top-10 finish since the start of the 2015 season when she came to Singapore. And here she was, hitting greens and draining putts for the first three rounds like the superstar she was born to be.

And then it happened. Wie, trying to take a three-shot lead on the fifth hole with a good look at birdie, walked off with double-bogey after a jarring four-putt.

And while Wie made a few good rolls after that, nothing fell. She closed with a 72 to finish tied for fourth.

“Overall, I can’t complain,” she said, “but right now it stings a little bit.”

Perhaps Wie can ride the momentum into the West Coast Swing where she’s had much success over the years at the ANA Inspiration.

Park’s surely already thinking about Rancho Mirage, Calif., where she won in 2013 to kickstart a run of three major victories.

On Sunday, Park became the first player to win the HBSC, otherwise known as “Asia’s Major,” two times. She now owns 18 LPGA titles and is projected to move from No. 12 to No. 9 in the world.

Now in her 11th season on the LPGA, she has $13,059,376 in career earnings, putting her seventh on the all-time list.

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