Park Tops Tight Leaderboard

By Sports NetworkAugust 28, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 Wachovia LPGA ClassicKUTZTOWN, Pa. -- Grace Park played her final five holes in 5-under par Saturday en route to a 7--under 65 and a one-shot lead at the Wachovia LPGA Classic. Park completed 54 holes with a new tournament scoring record of 17-under-par 199.
 
Park, who broke Michelle Ellis' 54-hole record of 201 set in 2002, posted a new 54-hole scoring mark one day after Jill McGill established a new 36-hole scoring record. McGill followed her second-round 64 with a 2-under 70 on Saturday and stands alone in second place at 16-under-par 200.
 
Soo-Yun Kang at one point owned a share of the lead in round three, but ended two strokes off the pace at minus-15. Laura Diaz, also had a share of the lead during the third round, but struggled down the stretch. She still managed a 5-under 67 to move to 14-under-par 202.
 
Park, who won the Kraft Nabisco Championship earlier this year, began her day four strokes behind McGill. She opened with three straight pars before dropping in a 5-foot birdie putt at the par-4 fourth. Park came right back with a two-putt birdie at the par-5 fifth.
 
The Korean cruised to the back nine as she played the next four holes in even par. Park birdied the par-4 10th at Berkleigh Country Club for the first time in three rounds to move to minus-13.
 
Park, a five-time winner on the LPGA, stumbled to a her lone bogey at the par-5 13th. However, she came right back with a birdie at the next to return to 13 under.
 
The 25-year-old turned it on down the stretch. Park rolled in a 10-foot eagle putt at the par-5 16th after a stellar second shot to join McGill in the lead at 15 under.
 
'There was a tree left of me, which was going to interfere with my follow-through,' explained Park of her second shot on No. 16. 'I was a little bit afraid, so I tried to quit on my swing and hit a punch shot. I probably couldn't do it twice, I got lucky.'
 
Park grabbed the lead outright with a 5-foot birdie putt at the 17th. She pulled two shots clear of McGill when she got up-and-down for birdie at the par-5 closing hole.
 
'I am happy, especially the way I finished today, 5 under for the last five holes,' said Park. 'I'm very pleased and really feel good about this.'
 
McGill meanwhile is battling for her first win on tour. She stumbled to start her round as she dropped a shot at the par-3 third. McGill battled back to birdie the fifth for the third straight round to return to minus-14.
 
The 32-year-old slipped to another bogey at the seventh. McGill ran home a 20- foot birdie putt at the 10th to join Diaz in the lead at minus-14.
 
McGill nearly dropped a stroke at the par-5 13th when her tee ball landed in a hazard. However, she took off her shoes and went into the hazard to play her shot. McGill blasted a shot down the fairway, then dropped her third in a greenside bunker.
 
The 1993 U.S. Amateur champion battled to get up-and-down for her par to remain at minus-14. McGill drained a 25-foot birdie putt at the 15th to regain the out-right lead at 15 under.
 
McGill parred 16 and 17, while Park passed her by closing eagle-birdie-birdie. At the last, McGill knocked her second shot from 179 yards out onto the putting surface and she two-putted for a closing birdie to get within one stroke of Park.
 
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