PARK STILL SATISFIED WITH VOA CLASSIC SHOWING
Inbee Park started the final day of the Volunteers of America Classic in a tie for the lead and in the final group with Yealimi Noh and So Yeon Ryu. It was the 21st time Park had held the 54-hole lead/co-lead on the LPGA Tour, and had converted 12 of the last 20 times into victories. After starting off with an unfortunate bogey on No. 1, Park regained ground to sit in a tie for the top at the turn after birdies on Nos. 4 and 6. But, as Angela Stanford put the pedal to the medal two groups in front of her, Park’s bogey on No. 12 and birdie on No. 14 weren’t enough to secure her third VOA Classic victory since 2013.
“Today was a little bit tougher out there with the wind. I feel like I gave myself a couple of opportunities, but I guess Angela played really well and under really tough conditions. So I don't feel I played bad, just wasn't my day,” said Park, who would have needed an eagle on No. 18 to force a playoff with Stanford. “Yeah, still very happy with the round and having 3 under par rounds in this cold weather, tough conditions is giving me things to accomplish going into next week.”
Park will go for her third victory in another event next week – the U.S. Women’s Open at Champions Golf Club, a major championship she won in 2008 and 2013. After a tie-for-second showing at the Old American Golf Club, she’s hoping to keep the momentum going into the season’s final major title opportunity. “I think it's going to be a little bit similar conditions with a little bit of wind and probably a little bit chilly weather,” said Park. “I think good practice week this week, so yeah, looking forward to next week.”
STANFORD MAY BE 43 YEARS OLD, BUT SHE WON’T BE SLOWING DOWN ANYTIME SOON
If there is anything that this year’s Volunteers of America Classic champion 43-year-young Angela Stanford proved, it is that age is just a number. What really matters is how alive the heart is. Crediting her victory due to her “passion,” Stanford had a message for individuals of all ages.
“I really think it boils down to passion. I just love trying to get better. I think if you love what you're doing and you love your process and you just love getting better, then you have to keep going. I would tell anybody, you work and you try until you just don't have that desire and that passion anymore. I just turned 43. Not many people at 42 are going to say, ‘I want to learn how to chip the ball properly.’ So I just felt like if I'm getting close to the end of my career I don't want to leave any stone unturned. I want to find out, if I chip it the best I can, if I putt it the best I can, if I hit it the best I can, what am I capable of before I'm done? I think if you have the passion to get up every morning and get better, you can chase your dream as long as you want,” said Stanford.
The first player at or over the age of 40 to win on Tour since Cristie Kerr (40, 2017 Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia) and Catriona Matthew (42, 2011 Lorena Ochoa Invitational), Stanford finds herself winning during her 20th year on the LPGA Tour. It’s pretty easy, though, when the love she’s had for the sport is as grand as it has always been.
“All year I've been so grateful to get to play golf. I think LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan and his team and all the staff at the LPGA, all of our sponsors and partners, I was scared to death that I wasn't going to get to play golf this year, and there are so many people that made this year happen and I don't get to sit here today without all those people. I didn't expect this in the 20th year, and I was just thinking I took a picture at Diamond Resort this year. It's my 20th year,” said Stanford. “Now looking back, you're just like, ‘wow, didn't think this year was going to go this way.’ So you just never know. I never saw this year coming. Honestly, I didn't think I would win this year. I didn't know if I'd ever win again. You know, that's the thing, it's hard to win on this tour and I'm just so grateful to everybody that stepped up and said, no, we want to play golf. The sponsors that came beside us and said we want to put you all out on a golf course. It's a big deal, and it's much appreciated.”
SO YEON RYU SHINES UNDER THE COLONY, TEXAS SKIES
Despite finishing in a tie for second this week at the Volunteers of America Classic, So Yeon Ryu’s sunny disposition never seemed to fade as she recorded her second bogey-free round in a row at Old American Golf Club. Closing with a fourth-round 70, Ryu made 17 straight pars and closed with a birdie, her first since Saturday’s round at No. 13.
“I was quite nervous coming back [to the LPGA Tour], even though I played a few good events in Korea, I haven't played on the LPGA for a long time, so I was nervous I was still eligible to compete with these greatest players or not, but it was really great to be in contention,” said Ryu, who spend most of 2020 once the Tour took a hiatus due to the coronavirus. “Well, to be honest, like last 27 holes were a little disappointing, but finish second is always good, I cannot complain to that, so it's really good to be back.”
Ryu won her country’s open this past summer, the Korean Women’s Open on the KLPGA and is looking forward to add another Open title next week at U.S. Women’s Open. She won the event back in 2011, which jumpstarted her career on Tour, and earning her Membership for the 2012 season. A strong showing in her first LPGA Tour event since February only solidifies her confidence for next week.
“I think it's going very needed to have the confidence and if I can win the tournament again, that will be awesome,” said Ryu. “Having two U.S. Women's Open trophy under my belt is something really big, so looking forward to playing next week.”