Park Leads LPGA Back to Tulsa


TULSA, Okla. - It's safe to say that Tulsa Country Club is a special place for Korea's Gloria Park. It was there in 2001 where the three-year LPGA Tour player broke into the winner's circle and became one of the LPGA's seven Rolex First-Time Winners of the season. Park fired a final-round, six-under-par 64 to win last year's Williams Championship by one stroke over Donna Andrews and earn her first career win on Tour.
This year, Park leads a stacked field of 144 players to the 54-hole, $1 million event having picked up her second win earlier this season at the Sybase Big Apple Classic Presented by GOLF MAGAZINE in New Rochelle, N.Y. Joining Park in the field are nine other 2002 tournament champions: six-time champion Annika Sorenstam; three-time champion Se Ri Pak; two-time champions Juli Inkster, Mi Hyun Kim and Rachel Teske; Cristie Kerr; Meg Mallon; Janice Moodie; and State Farm Classic champion and Rolex First-Time Winner Patricia Meunier-Lebouc.
Also in this year's field are leading LPGA rookies Beth Bauer and Natalie Gulbis, who have been battling all summer long for supremacy among the Tour's talented rookie class. The Williams Championship is the second-to-last tournament in which LPGA rookies can earn points toward the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, which will be decided at the conclusion of the Safeway Classic, Sept. 13-15, in Portland, Ore.
A pair of talented sponsor's exemptions will also be taking on the par-70, 6,233-yard Tulsa Country Club course. Four-time All-American and University of Tulsa graduate Stacy Prammanasudh is competing, along with 2001 U.S. Women's Amateur champion and 2002 Nancy Lopez Award winner Meredith Duncan. Both players are coming off of last week's LPGA Sectional Qualifying Tournament in Venice, Fla., where Prammanasudh finished among the top 30 players to advance to the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament.
In last year's event, Kelly Robbins and Park shared a one-stroke lead after a pair of opening-round, two-under-par 68s, one shot clear of Susie (Redman) Parry and Teske. A career-low 62 in the second round gave Andrews a 132 (-8) total and propelled her into a four-shot lead over Wendy Ward, Rosie Jones and Teske heading into the final round.
Park, who started the day five strokes behind Andrews, took over the lead after four birdies on the front-nine. A double-bogey sidetracked Park for a few holes, but she quickly regained her composure with back-to-back birdies on 12 and 13. A two-foot birdie putt on 16 caught Park up with a charging Andrews, then took the lead for good on 17 after sinking a three-foot birdie putt.
Andrews had a chance to tie Park at nine-under-par 201, but her 50-foot birdie putt on 18 rolled just past the hole, leaving her a shot behind in second place. Park's 64 in the final round was a career-low for the young champion. What truly cost Andrews a spot in a playoff with Park was a one-stroke penalty, which she called on herself, on the 18th hole during her second round for double-hitting her final putt.
Teske finished third at 207 (-3), while Nancy Scranton was fourth at 208 (-2).