Tiger-Inspired Sentosa Success for Brilliant Park

Park Sung-hyun celebrates after the final round of the HSBC Women’s World Championship. Picture by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

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.”

Minjee Lee had to settle for second place. Picture by Andrew Redington/Getty Images

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.

After 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.”

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