Singapore: Tiger Woods may still be seeking his first win of 2019. But the 14-time Major champion’s positive influence on fellow professionals remains as strong as ever, Park Sung-hyun crediting Woods with playing a decisive role in her victory in the 12th edition of the HSBC Women’s World Championship.
The 25-year-old Korean golf sensation claimed her sixth LPGA Tour triumph after shooting a final-round eight-under-par 64 on the New Tanjong Course at Sentosa Golf Club, a Golf Course Facility Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.
Her 15-under-par total of 273 was two strokes ahead of Australian Minjee Lee, the runner-up, and four shots in front of Korean Ko Jin-young and Spaniard Azahara Munoz in joint third.
Nicknamed Tiger in reference to her prowess on the golf course, Park said a surprise recent meeting with the American during a TaylorMade brand shoot acted as an inspiration for her.
Speaking at her victory press conference, Park had a message to share with Woods: “If Tiger is watching this interview, then I would want to say that because we met, you gave me such a good energy … that made me win this tournament.”
Park started the final round in a share of eighth spot, four strokes behind leader Ariya Jutanugarn and made a charge for the top, shooting the week’s low round. Meanwhile, her Thai rival, the world number one, finished joint eighth after a disappointing closing 75 and is still awaiting her first LPGA success on Asian soil.
“The secret, I would say, is that I just tried to focus shot-by-shot today, and because of the hot weather, I was holding my umbrella really close,” said Park of the high temperatures and humidity at Sentosa. “I was holding it really low so I could only look at the ground and the sweat dripping off my face. That narrowed by focus.”
Admitting that she did not expect to find herself holding aloft silverware quite so early in the season, Park said: “I didn’t think I would win this fast. I am used to having a tough start to the season these past few years, and this first win came so fast, I think I will play really comfortably the rest of my season.”
Park birdied her first three holes and made two additional birdies on the front with a bogey at the long eighth her solitary blemish. Staying strong and focused, she added four more birdies on the back nine, as she had predicted to her mother, LeeKeu-mja, a day earlier.
running out of steam on the back half of her second and third rounds, Park said
Lee repeatedly asked her: “What’s going on with your energy levels? Are you
tired?” Park responded confidently: “I still have one more day … and just wait.
Even though I hit over par on the back nine in the second and third round, I
still had the confidence that I could play better on the last day.”