19 year old Inbee Park, who began golfing two days after watching Se Ri Pak win the 1998 U.S. Women's Open, got one of her own ten years later. Her cool, smooth, -2, 71 was more than enough to fend off what started the day as a tightly bunched field. Helen Alfredsson finished in solo second, four strokes back. It was a great tournament for her other than the lack of a dependable putter. In a three way tie for 3rd were American Stacy Lewis, 75 today, -4 overall. She was tied with In-Kyung Kim and sweet swinging Angela Park. Nicole Castrale with an excellent -2 today, one of the few under par rounds other than Inbee's, snuck into a tie with Paula Creamer, Mi Hyun Kim, and Giulia Sergas.
Today's final pairing, Creamer and Lewis each got off to inauspicious starts. Both double bogeyed the 2nd hole. Creamer doubled the 9th. They finished the front nine in 41, and 40 respectively. Inbee birdied her 1st two holes and made the turn in 35. Thus, the field moved backward and the leader moved forward. The back nine was essentially an Inbee coronation.
Park became the youngest winner in the history of the U.S. Women's Open. She proved again that golf is a world sport, no longer dominated by the US and Europe. The field is wide open and I sense we'll be seeing more newly minted stars in women's golf. Right now they're at the colleges, golf academies, and high schools all over the world. Exciting times!
Average Golfer Open observations.....
1. Putting still wins golf tournaments. Anywhere, anytime.
2. Annika Sorenstam's 18th hole eagle, a 199 yard six iron, was karma and a fitting end to her Open career. Coolest shot of the tourney. No 2nd place.
3. Watch out for Maria Jose Uribe. The Colombian was low amateur and under par as well, finishing at -2.
4. Michelle Wie has a looong way to go, but still is a great ball striker. She's the closest thing to a male pro out there in terms of how she hits the ball.
5. Pressure identifies champions. It was a wide open tournament when they teed off this morning. Inbee Park handled the pressure of a major championship better than the rest, hence she won.
6. Don't worry too much about Lorena. She's had a ton of personal burdens in the last few weeks and it must have been impossible to focus. She's still the world #1, by a long shot.
7. Other than an bit of an anti-climactic back nine, anyone that didn't enjoy this event isn't a real golf fan.
8. Stay tuned. The Annika farewell tour continues and the Women's British Open isn't far away.