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Inbee Park approached the 17th tee two back of the lead and needing to make noise on two of the toughest holes on the course to put pressure on Brittany Lincicome, who led by two shots.
As major champions tend to do, Park came through when it mattered most, draining a birdie on the 17th hole then coming through with a crucial 15-foot par putt on the final hole to push Lincicome into a playoff. Again, with the pressure on, Park headed back to the 18th tee and made a par on the toughest hole on the course to not only defend her title but win in a playoff for the second straight time at this major championship.
Karrie Webb finished in a tie for 25th at 1-over par as the best of the Australians. Sarah-Jane Smith, Sarah Kemp and Stacey Keating all made the cut but finished down the leaderboard.
“I think it’s very lucky that I actually got an opportunity today, because you know, I thought I probably won’t get an opportunity with Brittany coming up the last and if she made a par I would not have gone into playoff,” Park said. “And I holed really good putts on number 17 and 18 to put me in the playoffs. So yeah, just very happy the way I played today.”
Park’s fifth major – and 11th tour victory – came as a bitter disappointment for Lincicome, who three-putted from about 35 feet just off the green. Her ball rested up against the collar and she left it about eight feet short, narrowly missing the par putt to send her into a playoff with Park. When both hit it just off the green on the first playoff hole, Park got up and down and Lincicome didn’t to garner Park’s second win of the season.
“Just need to learn how to control the nerves a little bit more. I was really, really nervous coming down the stretch, especially the 18th hole and then the playoff, that putt that I had, the first putt, and then the chip that I had I was shaking like a leaf, which it’s hard to do anything when you’re shaking,” said Lincicome. “I feel like I was like — I don’t know what I had, but it’s just not a fun feeling.”
Park had lost in the week prior at the LPGA Meijer Classic in a Playoff to Mirim Lee, and she was incredibly pleased that she was able to get back in the winner’s circle the final time the LPGA Championship will visit Rochester after 38 years in one of golf’s greatest cities.