PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- Inbee Park was only kidding the other day when she said, about South Korean dominance in women's major golf championships, "I think maybe we have dominant blood." She knows the real story of majors is sheer survival.
Park withstood a staggering finish at the end of 36 regulation holes Sunday -- she was 3 over par for the last five holes to finish 5 under for the tournament -- and won a playoff to secure the Wegmans LPGA Championship.
Park closed with a 3-over 75 and Scotland's Catriona Matthew had a 68. Both finished at 283 before Park birdied the third extra hole for the win.
Park was weary after she beat Matthew in sudden death, but the result sure looked like dominance: Park, the No. 1 women's player in the world, has won the year's first two majors and her country has taken the past four.
So she has a chance to pursue a really grand slam -- the LPGA now has five majors instead of four -- when the tour comes to Long Island the last week of June for the U.S. Women's Open. At Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton on June 27-30, the rest of the world will have the incentive of trying to stop another streak: The past nine women's majors have been won by Asian-born players.
"It was a special week for me," said Park, 24, whose family moved to Las Vegas when she was 12. "It was a tough day out there. I didn't hit many fairways and I was scrambling really well. I think I was actually really lucky to get in the playoff.
"This is a major tournament, and it's always in your memory for a long time."
Morgan Pressel had a good shot at claiming a rare major win for the United States, leading by five during the morning round Sunday (the schedule was compressed because of a rainout Thursday). But she stumbled and trailed Park by a shot heading into the final 18. Despite some struggles, she was even for the first nine holes of round four and in range of ending her personal five-year victory drought before three bogeys on the back and a 75.
"I didn't think Inbee would give me as much of a window as she did. She gave me a window and I gave it right back to her," Pressel said, her eyes red, fighting to hold back tears.
As painful as it was, it did give her some encouragement and momentum for the next major. "I've been up to Sebonack a couple of times, I'm going back this week," Pressel said. "I feel like I have a little bit of local knowledge on my side and kind of have a good idea of how to play the golf course, and a good game plan."
But right now, Park and her countrywomen seem to have local knowledge wherever majors are played.
Prodigy Ko eyes LI. Lydia Ko, 16, a Korean-born prodigy who lives in New Zealand and has won three pro tournaments as an amateur, shot 3 under in the final round and finished tied for 17th at 1 over. It was her best finish in a major. Before heading home, she is coming to Long Island this week to play Sebonack. "I heard it's quite an interesting and tough golf course," she said.