Gloria Park Prevails Sorenstam Fades


NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. -- Gloria Park birdied the first extra hole to win the Sybase Big Apple Classic Sunday. Park won for the first time in 2002 and the second time on the LPGA Tour.
Park began the day tied for the lead with Annika Sorenstam. After Sorenstam failed to make a charge, Park carried on with strong play until fellow Korean Hee-Won Han stepped up to the challenge.
Han tied Park at 15-under with a birdie at the 15th. However, the 24-year-old Han ran into trouble with a bogey at the 16th to fall back to 14-under. Park soon matched her with a bogey of her own at the very same hole.
The duo parred the final two holes to finish regulation knotted at 14-under-par 270. Both Park and Han returned to the 18th at Wykagyl Country Club to begin the extra session.
Park hit her driver into the rough at the par-5 but managed to hit a 7-iron out onto the fairway. The 22-year-old then hit her third shot to seven feet for birdie and the win. Park was embraced by her father, who held back tears as he walked onto the green.
'I feel just really great,' said Park. 'I had a really big fight with my dad last night about my putting stroke. He wasn't happy with my stroke. I cried for two hours last night. I really couldn't sleep. It has been a long day. He said sorry to me on the last hole, so I forgive him.'
Park opened with a nine-foot birdie at the first to move to 13-under. She hit a 9-iron to four feet for birdie at the third to open a two-shot lead over Sorenstam. After a bogey at the fourth, Park made back-to-back birdies to climb to 15-under and open a three-shot lead around the turn.
Park held steady as Han crept up the leaderboard. Han picked up two birdies on the front nine and moved to 13-under with a birdie at the 11th. She moved to 14-under with a pair of birdies from the 11th and tied Park at 15-under with a three-foot birdie at the 15th. At the very next hole, Han three-putted for bogey to remain tied with Park en route to the playoff.
For Han, the 2001 Rookie of the Year, the near-win allowed room for growth.
'I was having a great game today, and I'm happy about that,' Han said through her manager and translator, Don Oh. 'It's encouragement for next week or another tournament.'
Sorenstam, a two-time winner of this event, made a late run with back-to-back birdies from the 14th to move to 13-under but Park and Han remained out of reach. Sorenstam finished carded a final-round 70 to finish at 13-under-par 271.
Karrie Webb collected four birdies and no bogeys for a round of 67. She finished alone in fourth at 12-under-par 272. Beth Daniel, who won this event in a playoff in 1994, was two shots further back at 10-under-par 274.
Michele Redman, the 1997 Big Apple champion, carded a 67 to share sixth place with Diana D'Alessio at 9-under-par 275.
Kelli Kuehne, who held a two-shot lead after the second round, finished six shots off the pace at 8-under-par 276.
Final results from the Sybase Big Apple Classic