Sunday, April 28, 2013

North Texas LPGA Shootout Sunday: Inbee Park Chases Down Carlota Ciganda

There are many reasons Inbee Park is the #1 player in the world of women's golf, and she showed off several of them as she chased down Carlota Ciganda to take the inaugural North Texas LPGA Shootout title tonight.  For one, Park is one of the best putters on the planet, as she proved on the weekend, taking 28 putts in the final round, her fewest of the week.  For another, she's relentless; even though she couldn't drive for show or putt for dough on Friday, she held it together that day and came back on the weekend with solid driving and no bogeys over her final 35 holes.  Finally, she never panics; even though Ciganda bounced back from a 2-shot swing on the 2nd hole to fall back to -10 and a tie for the lead with Park by making 4 birdies over her next 8 holes, Park made 2 to stay within striking range, then kept plugging along as Ciganda went bogey-double bogey on 14 and 15 and capped it off by matching Ciganda's walkoff birdie to preserve her 1-shot victory.

Even though it turned out to be a 2-player race for the win, plenty of other golfers took the "shootout" part of the tournament's title seriously, none more so than Hee Young Park, who rocketed up to T4 with So Yeon Ryu on the strength of a bogey-free 64.  Suzann Pettersen's 66 lifted her to 3rd place, 3 shots out of the lead despite opening her week with a ho-hum 70-70 start.  Where Pettersen went 68-66 on the weekend, Stacy Lewis went 69-66 to catch Na Yeon Choi, Shanshan Feng, and Karine Icher at T7.  Guilia Sergas and Jane Park also fired 66s to sneak into the top 20, while Paula Creamer's 68 almost got her into the top 10 and Ji-Yai Shin's solo effort to start the day (another 68), almost snagged her a top 20.

But those efforts, as impressive as they are, pale beside the leads Park's 3rd victory of 2013 has opened up on the money list (over $200K more than Lewis), the Player of the Year race (50 points ahead of Lewis), and putts per green in regulation (.017 less than Lewis).  Looks like the perennial bridesmaid in past years on the JLPGA and then the LPGA has figured out how to win in bunches!

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