Tue, Jul 31, 2012 - Page 17 News List

LPGA: Red hot Park Inbee surges to Evian Masters victory

AFP, EVIAN-LES-BAINS, France

South Korea’s Park Inbee had a magical day with the putter to hold off a bunch of players and win the Evian Masters with a fantastic closing 66 here on Sunday.

The 24-year-old started the day tied with American Stacy Lewis, but had 11 single putts and eight birdies to post a 17-under-par total and won by two shots from Lewis and Karrie Webb, the veteran Australian who won back in 2006.

Lewis, the leader from round one, eagled the last from 30 feet for a 68, while Webb birdied the final two holes for a 67. China’s Feng Shanshan, who holed a bunker shot for an eagle at the last and a 66, South Korean amateur Kim Hyo Joo (68) and the 2007 champion Natalie Gulbis (68) of the US shared fourth place on 14-under-par.

“This is so exciting,” said Park, who dropped shots at the third and 11th but birdied four holes in each half. “Today I was red hot with the putter.”

Park’s win was just her second as a professional, but she has proved she has the nerve for the big occasion.

Her first win was as a 19-year-old in the US Women’s Open — and the 350,000 euro (US$431,000) first prize at Evian is the most lucrative in women’s golf.

“It’s been tough to wait so long for another win, but I think this will be really big for me,” she said.

By contrast, her playing partner, Lewis, the runner-up last year, could not buy a putt in the first 14 holes and had another hiccup when she cracked the face of her driver hitting from the 12th tee. However, she battled bravely with birdies at the 15th and 16th and then holed the monster for eagle at the 18th.

South Korea’s 17-year-old amateur Joo completed an amazing week with her 68 — her fourth sub-70 score — for 14 under par.

Winner of the World Junior (15-17-years) Championship last year, Kim has already won as a 16-year-old amateur on the Korean and Japanese Women’s Tours and intends joining the professional ranks at the LPGA Championship in South Korea in October.

“I have had a great time here,” she said through an interpreter. “It was really good fun and I played really well.”

Karine Icher, who has had three top tens on the LPGA Tour in the US this season, was on her first trip back home to France since the birth of her first child, Lola. And she produced a great final round of 69 to tie for 12th place on nine under par.

Lola is 11 months old, and the 33-year-old said: “My life has changed forever since she arrived. To have a baby, it’s completely different. Now my priority is not my golf, but my daughter, but I’m more relaxed and it’s fun to travel with her.”

Icher had four birdies in the final round and she is already looking forward to next year when the tournament will become the fifth women’s major, alongside the US and British Women’s Opens and the Kraft Nabisco and LPGA Championships.

“It’s going to be super,” she said after her closing four birdie round. “France is not a big country. We don’t have a lot of golf courses like in the United States. We’re going to have the Ryder Cup in 2018 and next year we’re going to have a women’s major. It means so much.”

Taiwan’s Yani Tseng, Amy Hung and Candie Kung all failed to make the cut on Friday.

Additional reporting by Staff writer

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