Golf: Park In Bee closes with stunning 64 to win HSBC Women's Champions by a stroke

In Bee Park tees off on the ninth green during the second round of HSBC Women's Champions at the Tanjong Course in Sentosa on March 3, 2017.
In Bee Park tees off on the ninth green during the second round of HSBC Women's Champions at the Tanjong Course in Sentosa on March 3, 2017. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - The records keep being rewritten by Park In Bee who became the first golfer to win the HSBC Women's Champions twice.

The 28-year-old South Korean closed with a blistering eight-under 64 on Sunday (March 5) for a winning total of 19-under 269 at the Sentosa Golf Club. She finished one stroke clear of Thai world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn, who shot 66 and was second on 270.

Park had entered the final round trailing overnight leader Michelle Wie by three strokes and caught fire from the 5th hole with a birdie. Park added birdies on 6th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th and 14th to lap the elite 63-women field.

She said: "Today was pretty much, everything I looked at, it wanted to drop in. It was very consistent ball-striking all week, and obviously there is a lot of birdie opportunities out there and I was able to convert many of them into birdies today."

Ariya, 21, who played alongside Park in the penultimate flight, was in awe. She said: "I learned a lot from her (Park). She's very calm. I feel like she makes every putt. I think she did not miss one putt today."

This was Park's 18th LPGA Tour title and first since the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in November 2015, the same year she won the 2015 edition of the US$1.5 million (S$2.11 million) HSBC tournament.

Not only did she pocketed US$225,000 for her win, Park is the first two-time winner of the HSBC event, which began in 2008 and was hosted at the New Tanjong Course for the first time.

Incredibly, this was just Park's second competitive tournament after she took a six-month break following her victory at the Rio Olympics last August.

She missed 19 Tour events to rest, having struggled with ligament injuries in her left thumb. She had admitted to being burnt out after 11 seasons as a professional but said the lay-off had reinvigorated her.

On her comeback at last week's Honda LPGA Thailand, she finished tied-25th at five-under-par.

She added: "I thought I was going to be just a little bit rusty. That's how I felt exactly last week. This week was totally different.

"Especially the final round was just what I wanted, and obviously it was a little bit inconsistent round like yesterday's round but obviously I made up for it today."

Park's resume is laden with accolades. Besides her seven Majors - Park is the seventh player, and second youngest, to complete the overall career Grand Slam - she was also a former world No. 1 and had held the top ranking for 92 weeks.

Last June, at the age of 27, she became the youngest player to qualify for the LPGA Tour Hall of Fame.

Singapore's Amanda Tan, 18, closed with a 73 for a 13-over 301 total and was 63rd and last. She earned US$3,663 in her first event as a full-time professional after turning pro earlier this month.