Sung Hyun Park claims World No. 1 with Indy Women in Tech victory

Sung Hyun Park, of South Korea, holds the trophy after winning the Indy Women in Tech Championship golf tournament in a playoff, Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018, Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings) Darron Cummings/Associated Press

Sung Hyun Park claims World No. 1 with Indy Women in Tech victory

Digital Edition

Sung Hyun Park claims World No. 1 with Indy Women in Tech victory

Sung Hyun Park punched the air with her right fist as her face broke out into a sparkling smile. The stoic player reserves displays of emotion for big moments – like collecting her third LPGA title of 2018 at the Indy Women in Tech Championship and rising to World No. 1 in the process.

It was Park’s second playoff title of the year and her fifth overall victory since joining the LPGA last season. The 24-year-old birdied the 19th hole, a reachable par 4, to defeat Lizette Salas, an American looking for her first victory in her past 106 starts.

Park donned the winner’s wreath, took a swig from a bottle of milk and kissed the bricks in the spirit of Indy 500 traditions. A victory inside the track at the
Brickyard Crossing demands such a celebration.

“She didn’t expect that,” said Park’s interpreter, “but it was her pleasure.”
Salas looked completely in command of her game all weekend, posting a bogey-free 8-under 64 on Saturday to take a two-shot lead into the final round. She held a one-shot lead heading down the stretch but missed her tee shot left on the 71st hole. That miscue led to her second bogey of the day. She arrived on the final tee box tied with Park, who failed to get up and down from just in front of the green for birdie on the 272-yard 18th.

This time Salas missed her tee shot right into the deep rough. But then came a quick return to form, as Salas hit a tremendous wedge to 4 feet, looking primed to secure a second career title with her mother looking on. Salas surprisingly backed off the short putt in a moment of discomfort. When she finally pulled the trigger, the ball never touched the hole.

The pair returned to the 18th tee for a second time, and both pulled 3-wood again. Both players found the fairway, though Salas can’t stay in the same zip code as Park.

This time Salas gave her birdie attempt a good run, and she crouched down as it snuck past the hole. Park wouldn’t make the same mistake twice. She drained a 15-footer to end Salas’s quest to quench a four-year drought.

When it was over, the 29-year-old Salas said all the right things.

“Probably going to have a chip on my shoulder just to prove to myself that I could win again,” Salas said. “And I had the game. I have been out here seven years, and I feel like I can play for seven more. And I’m not as young as I used to be, but I can still hang in there and play with these gals. And my confidence is there. And this might draw me back a little bit, but I’m going to – I’m going to rise to the challenge again, and I will be back, for sure.”

Park set a goal at the start of the year to win three times and has met that number. What has been an up-and-down season for the South Korean superstar turned around in part due to a change to her putter and routine on the greens.

Last season Park tied So Yeon Ryu for Rolex Player of the Year honors, becoming the first player to win both Rookie of the Year and POY honors since Nancy Lopez in 1978. The potential is staggering for the 10-time winner on the Korean LPGA whose swing and swagger turns heads the world over.

One gets the feeling she’s just warming up. Gwk

Latest

More Digital Edition
Home