Sung Hyun Park goes to afterburners in Singapore, smokes the field

Sung Hyun Park picked up her 6th LPGA victory in Singapore when she drew on Tiger’s energy and hopped on the birdie train ~

Sung Hyun Park seemed headed for a second mediocre finish when she started her final round at the HSBC Women’s World Championship. She was trailing leaders Ariya Jutanugarn by three stroke and had been having trouble mastering the Sentosa greens.

I assumed – wrongly, it turns out – that Ariya would finally hoist a trophy at an Asian event. And if not Ariya, then Minjee Lee, who was playing in the final group with Ariya and Jodi Ewart Shadoff and started her final round with a birdie.

The battle lines looked to be drawn as that final group went to the second hole. Minjee’s birdie put her even with Ariya at 11-under and Ewart Shadoff’s bogey signaled – to me – that she wasn’t going to join in that exhilarating final round shootout I’d settled down to enjoy.

But Sung Hyun Park was doing what Sung Hyun Park does best, and I wasn’t paying attention, at least not yet. Park got control of her flatstick and started her final round with a trio of birdies. That ability to summon the energy it takes to come from behind, she explained during the winner’s press conference, is a lesson she learned from the best in the game, Tiger 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.

When Ariya doubled the par-3 fourth and dropped back to 9-under, I started thinking Singapore would bring Minjee Lee closer to her goal for the season, the top of the world rankings. She still had a one stroke edge over Park. It didn’t last.

Sung Hyun Park had hopped on the birdie train and she wasn’t anywhere near ready to get off.

Minjee Lee delivered a solid final round in Singapore but it wasn’t enough to outpace Park’s whiz-bang-thank-you-ma’m birdie binge that just didn’t let up. Minjee Lee needed more game than she could summon as she played her way around Sentosa’s back nine.

That tee shot gone wrong on the 14th disrupted her momentum and she couldn’t get it back.

In the end, Sung Hyun Park polished off her 8-under par round with a respectable pair of pars. She didn’t need any more because after her bogey on the par-4 14th Minjee Lee couldn’t find another birdie. She, too, finished her round with a string of pars, two shots back of this week’s champion.

Whether we’re calling her ‘Tiger’ or ‘Namdalla’ (I’m different), or ‘Dak Gong’ (Shut up and attack), there’s no question about Sung Hyun Park’s ability to deliver a prodigious game of golf!

Next: 10 young players to watch in 2019

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