South Korea’s Sung Hyun Park overcame a four-stroke deficit and won a three-way playoff against countrywoman So Yeon Ryu and Japan’s Nasa Hataoka on Sunday to win the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Kemper Lakes Golf Club in Kildeer, Ill.
Park and Ryu each birdied the first playoff hole, the par-4 18th, while Hataoka parred and was eliminated.
The remaining pair headed next to No. 16, also a par 4, where — after a brief rain delay — Park drained a 9-foot birdie putt to claim the title. She raised her hands over her head in celebration before hugging her caddy, David Jones, and shedding some tears.
“I think all the work I’ve done has paid off today,” she said afterward. “That’s what really made me cry.”
The birdie-birdie finish made it five for Park on the day after a bogey-free round that included a remarkable par save at No. 16, where she chipped out of tall grass at the edge of the water to about 3 feet. Park finished regulation at 3-under 69 for the round and 10-under 278 for the tournament after starting Sunday four strokes behind Ryu.
Hataoka had to close twice as large of a gap to reach the playoff, as she racked up five birdies and two eagles against just one bogey to shoot 64, an 18-hole record in the event’s final round. The 19-year-old’s round was also the best of the day by three strokes and best of the tournament by two.
Ryu, who began the day three shots clear of the field, opened the door early and late, as she double-bogeyed No. 2 and No. 17 to undermine four birdies against one bogey on the 14 holes in between. The 28-year-old drained a 20-footer for birdie at the 16th for a two-shot lead with two to play, but her tee shot at the par-3 17th found water and led to the second double bogey. Ryu finished at 1-over 73 on the round after three previous rounds in the 60s.
“The biggest regret is 17,” Ryu said after her round. “I was over the ball and I felt like the wind was a little bit more … so I was going to have like one club longer, and then I was like, I just want to stick to my plan A, and then I hit it.
“I don’t think it was a really bad shot, but just maybe the ball drew more than I expected, then there was a really strong right-to-left wind and then wind just took it really hard to the left, and then it’s in the water hazard.”
Park, 23, claimed her second career major title after winning the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open. The world’s sixth-ranked player, she is the sixth South Korean to win multiple majors and the third to win this particular event, equaling Australia for the second-most behind the United States. Park moved into second place in the 2018 Rolex ANNIKA Major Award standings behind world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn.
“This trophy gives me a lot of confidence,” Park said.
Jessica Korda, who shot 68, and Angel Yin (71) finished three strokes back of the playoff in a tie for fourth.
England’s Charley Hull (67) and Canada’s Brooke Henderson (74) shared sixth place at 6 under, with Jacqui Concolino (67), Lizette Salas (70) and I.K. Kim (71) another stroke back in a tie for eighth. Hull and Concolino tied for the second-best round of the day.
Defending champion Danielle Kang shot her third over-par round of the tournament with a 73 on Sunday, finishing at 2 over for the tournament in a tie for 33rd place.
–Field Level Media