Sung Hyun Park wins Walmart NW Arkansas Championship with final-hole birdie, set to return World No. 1
A week ago at the KPMG Women’s PGA, Sung Hyun Park saw her chances at victory slip away due to the steady play of Hannah Green. Park ultimately lost by a stroke, and wasn’t going to let that happen in back-to-back tournaments. At the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, the 25-year-old from South Korea found herself in contention, again, and this time she claimed victory with a birdie on the final hole, finishing at 18-under 195 after closing with a five-under 66 on Sunday.
Playing in the twosome ahead of Park were Danielle Kang and Hyo Joo Kim. A birdie on the final hole by Kang and a par from Kim meant both finished at 17 under. So had Inbee Park, who was already in the clubhouse at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Ark., after shooting a six-under 65.
That meant S.H. Park needed a birdie or better on the reachable par-5 18th to avoid a playoff and claim her seventh career LPGA title. Not all that surprisingly, she put her second shot on the green (she hit 83 percent of her greens in regulation during the week), but left herself a roughly 25-foot putt. Without a three-putt during the 54-hole tournament, Park wouldn’t record her first one now, lagging her eagle try to a foot of the hole.
When she tapped in for birdie, Park not only had won the tournament but had earned enough points to regain her World No. 1 ranking from Jin Young Ko when the rankings are released on Monday.
This win is Park’s second of 2019; she was victorious at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in February. Only she, Ko and Brooke Henderson have won more than one event on the LPGA Tour in 2019.
It was a win that Park didn’t even really know was about to happen until just before the final putt.
“I knew that Hyo Joo also had a birdie opportunity, and I knew that I also had to make a birdie on either 17 or 18 to get there,” said Park, through a translator. “I didn’t see the leader board on 18 … once Carlota [Ciganda, playing in her group] told me to put my ball mark down, that’s when I knew.”