HARRISON, N.Y. - Inbee Park makes history the way she makes birdies: often, calmly and mostly in New York. "I think I should move here," she said after her historic third consecutive win in the KPMG Women's PGA, earned with a historic score.
Park, a 26-year-old from Korea, turned back a challenge from countrywoman Sei Young Kim and strode to a five-stroke victory Sunday in the major tournament formerly known as the LPGA Championship.
She never stumbled at Westchester Country Club, the way Kim did with a four-putt on the pivotal ninth hole, and she finished at 19 under par. That tied the best score in relation to par that anyone ever has had in a major. Several women have done it; Tiger Woods is the only man to do so (at the 2000 British Open).
She joined Annika Sorenstam as the only players to three-peat this event. Her fourth major victory in New York State brought her to six career majors, tying Pat Bradley, Patty Sheehan and other big names. She moved ahead of Se Ri Pak, the pioneer of women's golf in South Korea, where women's golf is huge.
"It feels amazing. It feels amazing to win three times in a row," Park said during her news conference, sitting beside the silver trophy. "I think I always dreamed of myself being a part of history, leaving my name, even before I die . . . I probably don't really realize what I'm doing right now. But I look at the names like on this trophy, all the legendary players, and we still remember them."
When she needed to be aggressive in her 5-under 68 Sunday, she was, unflustered by Kim's four successive birdies. The latter actually had a chance to tie on the ninth hole, but turned that green into a disaster. Kim double-bogeyed, Park birdied and was able to cruise through a two-birdie, seven-par back nine.
"Just flawless, really. She played great golf. Hats off to her," said Kim's caddie Paul Fusco, who carried for Vijay Singh's two PGA Tour victories on the same history-bedecked course.
Again Sunday, New York State brought out the best in Park. She won the 2013 U.S. Open at Sebonack Golf Club on Long Island (her historic third consecutive major that season). "It's old-style golf courses. The people, the atmosphere around here, I just love it. I love the food here and I love the city," Park said.
LI's Shon has support
No one had more fervent fans than did Kelly Shon of Port Washington. On No. 18, she saw five friends wearing Princeton-orange T-shirts and holding the cardboard letters "K-E-L-L-Y." The signs were made by Manhasset resident Hak Yong Kim and his wife Mihe (Shon's accountant). Shon shot 75 and finished 5 over. "I'm just really bummed today," she said. "I actually hit the ball best today. My putting just didn't keep up."