Inbee Park won her third consecutive Women’s PGA Championship on Sunday to return to world number one.
Park, who shot a final round 68 to finish the tournament at 19-under par, also regained the No. 1 ranking in women’s golf; surpassed her idol Se Ri Pak with a sixth major championship; tied the Tour record for the lowest score in a major in relationship to par and in her own mind cemented a place in women’s golf history.
“Obviously putting my name alongside like Annika Sorenstam or Patty Berg, legends of golf, just being a part of history of this golf tournament, I feel extremely honoured, and I can’t believe that I just did it,” she said.
Australia’s Karrie Webb (72) ended tied for seventh at nine-under but a massive 10 shots behind Park, while compatriot Minjee Lee (67) finished with easily her best round to be tied for 13th at six-under.
Park made five birdies and shot a bogey-free round at the Westchester Country Club, finishing the season’s second major five strokes ahead of 22-year-old compatriot Sei Young Kim.
The 26-year-old from South Korea, who shot 273 for the tournament, finished the four rounds with 22 birdies and just three bogeys.
“I played great the last three days,” she said. “I couldn’t believe myself. I made no bogeys for three days.”
Park ties Sorenstam (2003-2005) as the only golfers who have claimed this championship in three consecutive years. It was also her fifth major championship in the 12 played over the last three years on the LPGA Tour.
Park’s last birdie came on the final hole. She chipped her third shot to within five-feet of the pin, then sank the ensuing putt and threw her arms in the air as a fan yelled “three-peat.”
It was her 56th consecutive hole without a bogey.
The rookie Kim, who was trying to win her first major, started the day two strokes back.
She bogeyed the third and the fourth holes, but then reeled off four consecutive birdies, including a long birdie putt on the eighth to pull within a shot of the lead.
That was as close as she would get.
A three-stroke swing on the ninth hole put Park in charge. She hit a birdie putt, then watched as Kim three-putted for double bogey.
“Everything fell apart at the ninth hole,” Kim said through an interpreter.
American Lexi Thompson ended up in third place. She had eight birdies on her first 13 holes on Sunday and shot a 66 to finish at 12-under par.
With the current No. 1 Lydia Ko missing the cut for the first time in 54 tries, No. 2 Park needed to finish just 29th or better to retake the top spot she last held in February. It will be her third stay at the top of the rankings after being No. 1 for 59 weeks in 2013.
Park takes home $525,000 with the win.
She joins Sorenstam, Se Ri Pak, Patty Sheehan, Nancy Lopez, Kathy Whitworth and Mickey Wright as the only players to win what was formerly the LPGA Championship at least three times. Wright won it four times.
“I think I always dreamed myself being a part of history, leaving my name, even before I die, there is my name on this trophy” Park said. ” There’s a name on the US Open trophy. There’s my name on great championships.”