Park blitzes field with course record
Laser-guided putting sees South Korean become first golfer to win HSBC Women's Champions twice
She stood over the ball, looked at the hole, then turned her eyes down to the ball.
Park Inbee is one of the most even-keeled of golfers, but this level of calm was different.
Standing at the ninth hole of Sentosa Golf Club's New Tanjong course, it appeared as if she knew she could not miss - and she did not.
On the back of a nine-birdie blitz, Park yesterday stormed to victory in the HSBC Women's Champions, after starting the day three shots off the lead and lying in a share of fourth place.
She made five birdies in a row between the eighth and 12th holes to end the day with a course record eight-under 64, with her 19-under 269 good enough to squash the threat of world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn (270).
Park Sung Hyun finished two strokes further adrift (272) in third.
Michelle Wie, who was parked atop the leaderboard at the start of yesterday, ended in a three-way tie for fourth with a 14-under 274, along with Canadian Brooke Henderson and 2016 champion, Jang Ha Na.
"My putting was amazing today, obviously. Today was just that day, where I stand over the putt so confident that I can draw a line directly to the hole and it just goes exactly to the hole," said Park, who became the first to win the HSBC Women's Champions twice, after first winning it in 2015.
This tournament was only Park's second competitive event after a six-month injury lay-off, and she was surprised at how quickly she found form.
Even after ending Friday's second round at the top of the leaderboard, she had insisted that she was still some way from her best.
The 28-year-old now has 18 Tour wins - seven of them Majors - to go with her Olympic gold medal and a well-deserved spot in the LPGA's Hall of Fame.
"I thought I was going to be just a little bit rusty, that's how I felt exactly last week. (But) this week was totally different. I thought it may take maybe a couple of months to kind of get back out on the Tour and to get my rhythm back," she said.
"Obviously this week gives me so much confidence to go on."
Ariya stuck close to Park for most of the day, but her challenge faded after a bogey on the par-four 12th, and she eventually finished six-under 66 for the day.
While Park's hot putter saw her pull away, it was Wie's mistake with her own that opened the door for the South Korean.
Wie was two strokes ahead after making two birdies at the first three holes, but then came her putting disaster.
The 27-year-old took four putts to close the par-five fifth hole - two of those from about one metre.
"Stuff happens sometimes. Sometimes you just four-putt and you've just got to carry on with your life," said Wie.
Park gained much confidence from her win at the US$1.5 million (S$2.1 million) event, but, calm as ever, she was not getting carried away.
"My goal was to win a major championship this year, and winning this one doesn't change my goal," said Park, who laughed when asked if there was a particular Major she was eyeing.
"Any is fine."
Meanwhile, Singapore qualifier Amanda Tan finished last in the 63-strong field with a one-over 73 yesterday, and 301 four-day total.
"Well, this week really showed me that I still have so much more to do to get to where these girls are," said the 18-year-old, who is aiming for China Q-School next, and the LPGA eventually.
"Some parts are going in the right direction, but I still need to do a lot more work."
I thought I was going to be just a little bit rusty, that's how I felt exactly last week. (But) this week was totally different.Park Inbee