Park's closing 61 helps break 11-month drought

By Randall MellJune 8, 2014, 9:27 pm

Inbee Park fired back with an exclamation point.

A week after watching Stacy Lewis win the ShopRite Classic to take the Rolex world No. 1 ranking from her, Park answered dramatically Sunday, closing fiercely with a 10-under-par 61 to win the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. 

"It definitely took a little pressure off me," Park told reporters after winning. "At the same time, I needed a little motivation."

Though Park couldn't take back the No. 1 ranking with her impressive finish at Grey Silo Golf Course, the timing of her first LPGA title of 2014 adds to the storybook season the tour is delivering. Park will head to the U.S. Women's Open at Pinehurst No. 2 in a week with confidence and momentum in her bid to defend her title and take back the No. 1 ranking. 

"My last win on the LPGA tour was last year, about this time a year ago, and it really felt longer than a year," Park said. "After winning the U.S. Open in 2008, and not being able to win another tournament for another four years, I didn't want that to happen again. The longer you don't have the win, the longer time you have, the harder it gets to hold the trophy. So, I'm just really happy that I got that done."

It seems as if all the best players in women's golf are on their games going to U.S. Women's Open.

Rolex No. 1 Lewis, No. 2 Park, No. 3 Lydia Ko and No. 4 Suzann Pettersen all posted top-10 finishes in Canada.

Manulife Financial LPGA Classic: Articles, videos and photos

"Last year, it seemed like it was easier to win, but this year, obviously, it's been tough," Park said. "I feel that I played very good golf compared to last year, but I couldn't win until this week. That tells you how competitive the LPGA tour is and how players are playing great this year. 

Even a light rain couldn't cool Park, with her putter heating up Sunday. Her 61 was the lowest score she's posted in her eight LPGA seasons, three shots lower than her previous best in 169 tour starts. It tied the Grey Silo course record.

Two shots back at day's start, Park won her 10th career LPGA, title overtaking Shanshan Feng with 10 birdies and no bogeys. At 23-under 261, Park finished three shots ahead of Cristie Kerr (63) and five ahead of Feng (68).

Kerr, who closed with a 63, didn't look at a leaderboard until she putted out on the 17th hole. She couldn't believe she was three shots behind Park.

"I was stunned," Kerr said. "You think you'd be close." 

While Park dominated the LPGA a year ago, winning the first three majors of the season, she had gone 50 weeks without winning on the tour. Though she won the Mission Hills World Ladies Championship on the Ladies European Tour in March, she had not won an LPGA event since claiming the U.S. Women's Open at Sebonack Golf Club in New York.

"I got a confidence boost before going back to the U.S. Open," Park said. "I really wanted to have a trophy, before I played the big major tournaments."

The victory didn't just end a drought for Park. It broke a rare winless spell for the South Koreans, marking their first LPGA title this year. It broke the longest winless drought to start a year for the South Koreans since 2008.

When Park heads to Pinehurst No. 2 next week, she will be looking to win South Korea its sixth U.S Women's Open title in the last seven years.

Park's title creates a remarkably tight battle for the Rolex No. 1 ranking going to Pinehurst. Park will move within three-tenths of a point of Lewis in the rankings going to the U.S. Open.

Park, one of the best putters in the world, has an uncanny ability to demoralize her competition with the flatstick. Though she led the LPGA in putting average going into the Manulife Life Financial, she wasn't happy with her stroke. Everything, though, seemed to be going in at Grey Silo. She took 25 putts in the final round after hitting all but one green in regulation.

"The putter is definitely the key," Park said. "I've been hitting the ball consistently all year, my putter's just not been wanting to do its job. This week, obviously it did its job.

"I really tried to go back to what I was doing last year, how I putted last year, looking at the videos and stuff like that, trying to see what was different, trying to see what I did different this year and really trying to go back to the old way."

The old winning ways.

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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 12:55 pm

NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

Friday, Day 2 (Times ET)

1:30-8:20AM (Watch): On a rainy Friday morning at Carnoustie, Rory McIlroy shot 69 to reach 4 under, while Zach Johnson fired a 67 for the early lead. Click here or on the image below to watch.

Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.

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Fleetwood, with his fancy umbrella, fires 65 on Day 2

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 12:34 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tommy Fleetwood looked like an Open rookie when he set out on Friday under gray skies and a cold, steady rain.

Because the Englishman doesn’t have an equipment sponsor he made a quick turn through the merchandise tent for an umbrella – but at least he didn’t have to pay for it.

“We stole it,” he laughed when asked about his Open-brand umbrella. “We got one given for free, actually. We didn't steal it. We don't always carry an umbrella. So it just so happens this week that we've got a nice Open Championship [umbrella]. It looked quite nice, the yellow and the course.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

It was Fleetwood’s only rookie move on Day 2 at Carnoustie, posting a flawless 65 to move into an early tie for second place at 5 under par.

Fleetwood holds the competitive course record at Carnoustie, a 9-under 63 he shot last fall during the European Tour’s Dunhill Links Championship, but given Friday’s conditions and the difficulty of this course during The Open, his 65 on Friday might have been better.

“It's not a course record, but it's pretty good,” said Fleetwood, who was stroke behind leader Zach Johnson. “If you went out, you wouldn't really fancy being 6 under out there. So I think that's a good indication of how good it was.”

It was a dramatic turnaround for Fleetwood on Friday. He said he struggled with his ball-striking, specifically his tee shots, on Day 1, but he was able to turn things around with an hour-long session on the range following his opening round.

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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 10:15 am

Following an even-par 71 in the first round of the 147th Open Championship, Tiger Woods looks to make a move on Day 2 at Carnoustie.

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McIlroy responds to Harmon's 'robot' criticism

By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:53 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy said during his pre-championship news conference that he wanted to play more "carefree" – citing Jon Rahm’s approach now and the way McIlroy played in his younger days.

McIlroy got off to a good start Thursday at Carnoustie, shooting 2-under 69, good for a share of eighth place.

But while McIlroy admits to wanting to be a little less structured on the course, he took offense to comments made by swing coach Butch Harmon during a Sky Sports telecast.

Said Harmon:

“Rory had this spell when he wasn’t putting good and hitting the ball good, and he got so wrapped up in how he was going to do it he forgot how to do it.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“He is one of the best players the game has ever seen. If he would just go back to being a kid and playing the way he won these championships and play your game, don’t have any fear or robotic thoughts. Just play golf. Just go do it.

“This is a young kid who’s still one of the best players in the world. He needs to understand that. Forget about your brand and your endorsement contracts. Forget about all that. Just go back to having fun playing golf. I still think he is one of the best in the world and can be No.1 again if he just lets himself do it.”

McIlroy, who has never worked with Harmon, responded to the comments when asked about them following his opening round.

“Look, I like Butch. Definitely, I would say I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum than someone that's mechanical and someone that's – you know, it's easy to make comments when you don't know what's happening,” McIlroy said. “I haven't spoken to Butch in a long time. He doesn't know what I'm working on in my swing. He doesn't know what's in my head. So it's easy to make comments and easy to speculate. But unless you actually know what's happening, I just really don't take any notice of it.”

McIlroy second round at The Open began at 2:52 a.m. ET.