Chicago - South Korea's Park Sung-hyun birdied twice in a
weather-disrupted playoff on Sunday to win the Women's PGA Championship,
capturing the second major women's golf title of her career.
The 24-year-old from Seoul, last year's US Women's Open
champion, defeated compatriot Ryu So-yeon, denying her bid to reclaim the world
number one ranking, and Japanese teen star Nasa Hataoka in the playoff to
capture the $547 500 top prize.
"It was a really long round today and I still can't
believe I'm sitting next to this trophy," Park said.
Hataoka and the South Koreans each finished 72 holes at
Kemper Lakes deadlocked at 10-under par 278.
Fifth-ranked Ryu and sixth-ranked Park each birdied the
first playoff hole, the par-4 18th, while Nataoka was eliminated with a par.
The Koreans, who shared LPGA Player of the Year honours in
2017, reached the green at the par-4 16th, the second playoff role, when play
was suspended for dangerous weather in the area, halting the drama at its peak
for 20 minutes as the tension mounted.
When play resumed, Ryu missed her birdie putt and Park sank
hers for the victory then broke into tears.
"I got less nervous during the playoff. I was even
joking," Park said.
"I was a little worried, but even though it was a tough
week, I feel like I played really well. All the hard work paid off and that's
what made me cry."
Park, last year's LPGA Rookie of the Year, won her second
title of the year after the LPGA Texas Classic in May. It was her fourth LPGA
title overall after last year's US and Canadian Women's Open crowns.
Ryu, who won last year's ANA Inspiration and the 2011 US
Women's Open, took her first title of the year two weeks ago at the LPGA Meijer
Classic and hoped to more one step closer to a career Grand Slam.
"I did my best," Ryu said. "If I look back,
nothing I can do any better than that. I just did 100 percent effort. Every
shot, every putt and still looking at the positive side. This is my best finish
for this tournament, so hopefully it's going to keep improving, and one day I
want to lift that trophy."
Ryu, who turned 28 on Friday, would have overtaken Park
Sung-hyun atop the rankings with a victory after starting the day with a
Hataoka, 19, won her first LPGA title last week in Arkansas
and with more than $546 000 in the past eight days has eclipsed her prior
In the final round, Ryu stumbled with a double bogey at the
par-4 second and Park birdied the par-3 third and par-5 fourth to seize a share
of the lead.
But Ryu birdied the par-3 sixth and par-5 seventh to restore
a two-stroke edge at 11-under.
Ryu added a birdie at the par-5 11th but took a bogey at the
par-3 13th to stand only one ahead of Nataoka, with Park closing to within one
after a birdie at 14.
Ryu responded with a birdie at the 16th, giving her a
two-shot lead, but found water at the par-3 17th and made a double bogey,
falling back level with Nataoka and Park, who both parred 18 to force extra