South Korea’s Inbee Park proved why she is the world No 1 with a stunning final act at Turnberry yesterday. With seven birdies and an eagle in an outstanding record-equalling 65, she was crowned the Ricoh Women’s British Open champion.
It was a seventh major title for the 27-year-old and she completed her own version of a career Grand Slam. The magnitude of it all nearly left her speechless.
Winning this title was the only goal I set myself this year. I feel so happyInbee Park
“I don’t have a word to sum up how I feel. It’s amazing,” she said. “I have dreamed of this victory. Winning the majors is a goal I set myself and I’m really going to enjoy this one.
“Winning the British means so much,” she said after collecting the trophy and the £300,000 first prize. “This is the birthplace of golf and it has so much history here in Scotland. Winning this title was the only goal I set myself this year and I feel so happy to have achieved it.
“Every major is special but this one is much more special. Everything always seems so hard with the rain and the wind and the cold. You have to overcome so much. This week I was lucky. I got the good side of the draw and some good bounces.”
After four days of truly horrible weather, gusting winds and frequent showers made the last round yet another tough test. But Park finished with a 12-under-par 276 total and a second major this year to set alongside her third successive win in the LPGA Championship in June.
She has also won two US Opens and the 2013 Kraft Nabisco Championship. The only missing major from the list is the Evian Championship – but she did win the title the year before it became one of the big five in 2013. Park is the seventh woman to win four different majors in her career. Jin-Young Ko, the 20-year-old Korean LPGA player, was three shots behind in second place after a 71, with world No 2 Lydia Ko (69) and Ryu So Yeon (68) tied for third on eight under par.
Three behind going into the final round, Park was still three adrift of Ko Jin-Young with five to play. But she eagled the 14th, birdied the 16th and finally knocked aside her younger compatriot.
Ko, a joint overnight leader, holed massive putts for an eagle at the seventh and birdies at the eighth and tenth and the smiling youngser, with local Girvan caddie Jeff Brighton showing her the way, looked as though nothing was going to ruffle her march to the trophy.
But she made her first error when she three-putted for bogey from just off the green at the 13th. It was the first sign of weakness and the more experienced Park was ready and able to pounce. Ko’s title chance finally collapsed when she dumped her second shot into the burn guarding the green at the 16th. She ran up a double-bogey six and then couldn’t manage a birdie at the vulnerable par five 17th.
But the youngster could be hugely proud of her showing on her first visit to Britain – and her first major Championship. Park heaped praise on Ko. “I think I was just a little lucky because she really hung in there and she played fantastic golf. She’s very talented and has a great future. I’m sure she will go on to do very well in the future.”
At 18, New Zealand’s Ko was aiming to become the youngest women’s major champion and she looked set to mount a charge with four birdies in the first ten holes. But then one of Turnberry’s pot bunkers tugged away her hopes. She took two to get out of the sand at the 12th and she had to hit her second attempt to escape out backwards. To her credit, she wiped out the double-bogey with an eagle at the 14th but, by then, the damage had been done.
England’s Melissa Reid and Wales’ Amy Boulden shared the honour of top Britons with a tie for ninth place. Boulden had a 71 and Reid a 72. For Reid, the top-ten finish is a huge boost to her hopes of regaining her place in the European team for the defence of the Solheim Cup in Germany next month. “I always enjoy playing in the British, it is my favourite event,” said the Derbyshire 27-year-old, who won the amateur prize in the Championship at St Andrews in 2007. She also has a great record in Scotland, having won both the 2007 St Rule Trophy and the Helen Holm Scottish Open Strokeplay Championship.
Boulden is a highly promising 21-year-old and she must also come into contention for a Solheim Cup wild card pick when Captain Carin Koch names her team on 25 August.
It was a rather uninspiring week for the Scots. Catriona Matthew, the 2009 champion, emerged as the best of the bunch with a final round 71 for nine over par. Carly Booth, who came through the Monday qualifying, was the only other home player to survive the cut, but she finished at the bottom of the pile. She was first out both Saturday and yesterday and played on her own with a marker. A closing 74 left her on 14 over par.