Sung Hyun Park of Korea put up a 67 in Saturday’s third round to put herself in contention. A second straight 67 in Sunday’s final round made her U.S. Women’s Open Champion.
Park outlasted three other Korean players: 17-year-old amateur sensation Hye-Jin Choi (71), Mi Jing Hur (68), and So Yeon Ryu (70) to capture the USGA’s 72nd annual U.S. Women’s Open Championship at Trump National Golf Club (Old Course) in Bedminster, New Jersey.
“Well, to be honest with you, I still cannot believe that it is actually happening. It almost feels like I’m floating on a cloud in the sky. Of course, I did have many wins in other tournaments, but winning here at U.S. Open means so much more and for that I am grateful and extremely happy,” said an elated Park, who won her first-ever tournament on American soil and finally cracked through with her first major championship, in which she finished in the top 15 in six of the seven majors she has played.
Park saved her best for when it counted, knocking down three birdies on the back nine, including her final one on the par-4, 403-yard 17th hole.
Park’s other birdies included three on the front nine on holes 2, 5, and 8, in addition to 12 and 15 on the back nine. One minor miscue was a bogey on the par-4, 411-yard ninth hole, for only her second bogey in her last 36 holes of the tournament.
“Throughout this tournament, I felt that I was getting a good touch and a good feel that I was going to have a good shot. So I was thinking to myself that maybe two out of four rounds, that maybe I was going to have these great numbers. And to think that it happened in my third and fourth round, that’s what led me to the championship,” added Park. “Especially the back nine, I was actually extremely pleased with it myself.”
A bit of redemption from last year for Park in that she had a lead last year and eventually lost to American Brittany Lang at the U.S. Women’s Open in CordeValle. This year was the second straight year that the winner of the U.S. Women’s Open trailed by seven strokes through 36 holes, with Park being involved in both.
Park (143) trailed first-to-third round leader Shanshan Feng of China (136) at the halfway point this year, while Lang (143) trailed Park (136).
“I think as compared to last year, I could say that I played probably a little bit more relaxed,” said Park. “The experience was definitely worth it because based on that good experience that I had last year, I think I was able to garner the championship this year.”
Despite all the pre-, in-, and post-tournament hype as far as if the President of the United States was going to show up or not and what would be the backlash if he did, we do know this:
Korea is dominating the sport, not only with Park as champion but with the first four spots and seven of the first 10 scores on the final leaderboard.
The Bedminster-course lived up to its billing, hosting its second USGA event and first legitimate major championships of its existence. Despite bad weather during the first two rounds of the tournament, the course held up and scoring prevailed.
Lastly, there are a lot of talented women golfers out on tour, both American and International, that should be getting a lot more publicity.