South Korea’s Hee Young Park outlasted American Angela Stanford in a three-hole playoff to earn her second-career LPGA Tour victory at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic. It was Park’s first-career playoff appearance and birdied the third playoff hole to seal the win, her first since the 2011 CME Group Titleholders.
Park (64) and Stanford (65) both finished regulation at 26-under 258 which tied the lowest 72-hole raw score in LPGA Tour history. Karen Stupples posted a four-day total of 258 at the 2004 Welch’s/Fry’s Championship.
“I mean, still can't believe it,” said Park. “And then I have to go back to No. 18 tee again and my caddie and I worked hard and were never disappointed. Even missed the putt even during the round, and then tried to get simple. That’s what worked, and then that brought the good result.”
Park, who is in her sixth year on the LPGA Tour, started the day with a one-shot lead over Stanford and used a back-nine surge to force the playoff. Five of Park’s six birdies on Sunday came on the back nine with four of those coming on the final five holes. She birdied the 17th hole to tie Stanford at 25-under and the both players birdied the par 5 18th to finish at 26-under.
It was a three-player battle throughout the course of the final round. Park and Stanford exchanged birdies on the par 4 1st hole but Park cooled off on the front nine, opening the door for Catriona Matthew to make a run. The Scot birdied three consecutive holes on Nos. 5-6 to take a share of the lead with Stanford at 22-under before the final two groups made the turn.
After a nine-hole birdie drought, Park kept herself in the mix with her second birdie on the par 4 11th. She got within one shot of Stanford after back-to-back birdies on Nos. 14 and 15 and Matthew had an untimely error with her only bogey of the day on the 15th to drop two shots back.
“I just got a flyer out of the rough,” said Matthew. “That rough is kind of sticky, you know, and I've not been hitting it quite as far out of it and then that one was a bit of a flyer.”
Park moved herself into a share for the lead with Stanford at 25-under with a birdie on the 17th hole. They each picked up birdies on the final hole in regulation to finish at 26-under par.
“Yeah, it seems kind of tough to swallow right now, but you know like today, if somebody would have told me you're going to shoot 64 today and not win, I would have thought they were crazy,” said Stanford. “So for me to shoot 64‑64 on the weekend, you know, it's good for me but it's not a W, so you play to win.”
Park and Stanford exchanged birdies on the first two playoff holes but Stanford found trouble on the third when she hit her approach into the fairway bunker. She hit her third shot to the back of the green setting up Park, who got on the green in two, for two putts from 30 feet for the win.
Topics: Manulife LPGA Classic