Park Prevails Over Song for First Major
'My knees, my arms, my whole body was shaking,' said Park, who finished at 11- under-par 277. 'I don't know if anybody else is that way, but I remember every win that I've had, seriously, I didn't know if I could start the club.'
Park stood on the 18th tee with a two-shot edge over LPGA Tour rookie Aree Song. Song, who was trying to become the youngest player to ever win a major on the LPGA Tour, roped her approach onto the green and watched as her ball rolled inside 30 feet of the cup.
Park played her second shot short of the water and knocked her third to 6 feet before Song drained her eagle putt to take the clubhouse lead at 10 under par.
'I knew I had to make a three to have any chance,' said Song. 'I just read it perfectly.'
There was plenty of excitement left however. Park, who fell short of her first major win in a playoff to Annika Sorenstam at last year's LPGA Championship, responded and calmly converted the birdie try for the biggest win of her career.
'I knew exactly what I had to do,' said Park, who won for the fifth time on the LPGA Tour. 'I watched Aree's putt, actually. I saw it go in the hole and then I knew that I really, really had to make my 6-footer.'
Park, who began the day tied with Song at 8 under, found trouble early with a bogey at the third.
The turning point came around the turn for Park with a birdie at the ninth. She added a birdie at the 10th and another at the 11th to grab the outright lead.
At the par-4 12th, Park dropped her second shot within 6 feet of the cup and sank the putt for her fourth consecutive birdie to open a two-shot edge over the field.
The 25-year-old struggled off the tee en route to a bogey at the 15th but showed her experience with a perfect play at the last to take home the title on the Dinah Shore Course at Mission Hills.
'It's believing in myself,' said Park. 'Believing in my hard work that I had done. Just trusting that I could do this, If you want it really, really badly, you can get it. And I guess I was the one that wanted it the most.'
Song grabbed the lead with a birdie at the second and pulled two ahead with a birdie at the 10th.
The 17-year-old faltered with a bogey at the very next hole, however, and fell further back with a bogey at the 16th.
Song persisted and finished the best way she could with an eagle at the last to secure second place alone at 10-under-par 278.
'I just don't think I could have done anymore,' said Song, who shot a 70. 'I felt like I squeezed out a lot of shots today with the game I had. When you don't hit it in the fairway here it's a very difficult course to make birdie on.'
Karrie Webb birdied the 18th to complete a round of 69. She finished alone in third place at 9-under-par 279, one shot clear of another young star.
Michelle Wie was impressive again on Sunday as the 14-year-old carded a 1-under 71 to finish fourth at 7-under-par 281.
Wie, who tallied two birdies and a bogey in the final round, improved her result from last year's tournament for her best career finish on the LPGA Tour.
'I kind of feel drained right now. I'm just so tired. It's just been four long, hot days,' said Wie. 'I was tired today but I made a promise to myself today even if nothing works out that I'm still going to fight until the end.'
Cristie Kerr posted a 69 to join Catriona Matthew in a tie for fifth at 6-under-par 282. Mi Hyun Kim was one shot further back at 5-under-par 283.
Rosie Jones, Lorena Ochoa, Candie Kung, Christina Kim and Jung Yeon Lee shared eighth place at 4-under-par 284.
Annika Sorenstam, whose bid for a single season grand slam will have to wait until next year, closed with a 69 to finish one shot further back at 3-under-par 285 along Hee-Won Han and Stacy Prammanasudh.
Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59
Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.
While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.
He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.
"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."
Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.
"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."
Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot
When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.
Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.
"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"
The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.
Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.
"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."
DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.
Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.
"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."
Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.
Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.
"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."
Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.
"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."
LPGA lists April date for new LA event
The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.
When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.
The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.
The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.