Inbee Park doubled her lead to 6 strokes on the opening hole Sunday and ran away with the Kraft Nabisco Championship in Rancho Mirage, Calif., for her second major title.
The 24-year-old South Korean player made a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-4 first, while playing partner Lizette Salas had a double bogey for a 3-stroke swing.
“That made my day much easier, that’s for sure,” Park said. “I holed a long one on the first hole. A birdie start is always a good thing. That gave me a lot of confidence.”
The 2008 U.S. Women’s Open winner at Interlachen, Park closed with a 3-under 69 at Mission Hills to finish at 15 under, 4 strokes ahead of fellow South Korean player So Yeon Ryu.
“It had been a while since I won a major,” Park said. “It feels very special. This week, I played very solid. Today and all week, I played very good.”
Park celebrated the victory with the traditional leap into Poppie’s Pond, and jumped from fourth to second in the world with her fifth LPGA Tour title and ninth worldwide win. South Korean players have won three straight majors and Asians have won eight in a row.
Park has four victories in her last 16 events. She won the LPGA Thailand in February in her season debut when Ariya Jutanugarn closed with a triple bogey to blow a 2-stroke lead.
“I’ve played five tournaments on the LPGA Tour and I’ve won two of them, which is a very good start,” Park said.
Last year, Park won twice, had six runner-up finishes and topped the money list. She won the Evian Masters in July in France, tied for third in her next start, added three straight second-place finishes and capped the six-event run with a victory in October in the LPGA Malaysia.
“I’ve seen Inbee do this before,” top-ranked Stacy Lewis said. “I played with her at Evian last year when she had I think 22 or 23 putts in the final round. When she rolls it, you can’t beat her. She’s the best putter on tour.”
The 22-year-old Ryu, playing five groups ahead of Park, shot a bogey-free 65 — the best round of the week. Ryu is close friends with Park and they played a practice round together before the tournament.
Norway’s Suzann Pettersen and Sweden’s Caroline Hedwall tied for third at 9 under. Hedwall finished with a 68, and Pettersen shot 69.
Salas, the 23-year-old former University of Southern California player who grew up west of Los Angeles in Azusa, had a 79 to tie for 25th at 2 under.
Martin Laird has spent the last six months on the driving range looking for answers to his struggling game.
The Scottish golfer finally found what he was looking for, and then some on Sunday — winning the Texas Open in San Antonio with a final-round 9-under par 63 to overcome a resurgent Rory McIlroy and some of the world’s best along the way.
Laird, who entered the week 161st on the money list, tied the course record with his bogey-free effort. He punctuated the overall 14-under effort with birdies on the final three holes, earning a trip to next week’s Masters and plenty of confidence in a recent swing change along the way.
The win was Laird’s third on the PGA Tour.
Laird began the day 4 shots behind leader Billy Horschel, but he birdied five of his first eight holes to immediately jump into contention. His 7-foot birdie putt on No. 8 — one of only 22 putts in the round — put him into a tie with Horschel at 10 under.
He then held off a hard-charging McIlroy over the last few holes, including a stunning up-and-down for birdie out of the fairway bunker and off the fringe on No. 17. He capped the win with a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-5 18th.
McIlroy, the world’s No. 2, began the day at 6 under before posting a 66 to finish 2 shots back and finish second — his best finish of the year.
Horschel shot a 1-under 71 to finish in a tie for third with Jim Furyk and Charley Hoffman.