Park runs away with major
Finishes at 15 under for four-stroke LPGA victory ASSOCIATED PRESS,
Inbee Park doubled her lead to six strokes on the opening hole Sunday and ran away with the Kraft Nabisco Championship for her second major title.
The 24-year-old South Korean player made a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-4 first, while playing partner Lizette Salas had a double bogey for a three-stroke swing.
"That made my day much easier, that's for sure," Park said. "I holed a long one on the first hole. A birdie start is always a good thing. That gave me a lot of confidence."
The 2008 U.S. Women's Open winner at Interlachen, Park closed with a 3-under 69 at Mission Hills to finish at 15 under, four strokes ahead of fellow South Korean player So Yeon Ryu.
Park celebrated the victory with the traditional leap into Poppie's Pond, and jumped from fourth to second in the world with her fifth LPGA Tour title and ninth worldwide win. South Korean players have won three straight majors and Asians have won eight in a row.
Park was four victories in her last 16 events. She won the LPGA Thailand in February in her season debut when Ariya Jutanugarn closed with a triple bogey to blow a two-stroke lead.
"I've played five tournaments on the LPGA Tour and I've won two of them, which is a very good start," Park said. "It's pressure off me for the rest of the season."
Last year, Park won twice, had six runner-up finishes and topped the money list. She won the Evian Masters in July in France, tied for third in her next start, added three straight second-place finishes and capped the six-event run with a victory in October in the LPGA Malaysia.
"I've seen Inbee do this before," top-ranked Stacy Lewis said. "I played with her at Evian last year when she had I think 22 or 23 putts in the final round. When she rolls it, you can't beat her. She's the best putter on tour. The course here is a little softer than normal, so I think that's to her advantage."
The 22-year-old Ryu, playing five groups ahead of Park, shot a bogey-free 65 -- the best round of the week. Ryu is close friends with Park and they played a practice round together before the tournament.
Norway's Suzann Pettersen and Sweden's Caroline Hedwall tied for third at 9 under. Hedwall finished with a 68, and Pettersen shot 69.
Salas, the 23-year-old former University of Southern California player who grew up west of Los Angeles in Azusa, had a 79 to tie for 25th at 2 under.
Any drama evaporated on the first hole on another hot afternoon in the Coachella Valley.
After Park smashed her drive down the middle, Salas -- dressed in Trojans cardinal and gold -- hit into the deep left rough, 30 yards behind Park. Salas topped her second shot, advancing the ball only 15 yards.
Still in the thick rough, she left her third about 15 yards short of the green. Salas chipped to 15 feet, watched Park hole her birdie putt, then missed her bogey attempt and tapped in for double bogey.
Park increased her lead to seven on the par-5 second, holing a 7-footer.