HARRISON, New York (Reuters) - Park In-bee closed with a superbly solid 68 to win the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship by five shots on Sunday as her closest rival took a roller coaster ride at the undulating Westchester Country Club.
Park was impeccable in claiming her sixth major, running a bogey-free streak to a remarkable 56 holes as she finished at a tournament record-matching 19 under par with a 273 total to beat fellow South Korean Kim Sei-young, who shot 71 for 278.
It was a triple treat for Park, who won the event for the third year in a row, reclaimed the world number one ranking and avenged a sudden-death defeat to Kim in April’s Lotte Championship in Hawaii, as she claimed the $525,000 prize.
”It feels amazing to win three times in a row,“ Park said after matching the feat previously achieved by Sweden’s Annika Sorenstam. ”I feel extremely honored, and I can’t believe that I just did it.
“This is really a great accomplishment in my career. Obviously there’s a lot more things to do from now on but this is definitely one of the greatest accomplishments I’ve ever had.”
The 26-year-old Park, winner of five of the last 12 women’s majors played since 2013, began the day with a two-shot lead over Kim, an LPGA Tour rookie who has won twice this season.
Large galleries followed the Korean duel through the hills of the Westchester layout to watch a to-and-fro tussle in which Park built a four-shot lead by the fourth hole that shrank to one after Kim ran off four birdies in a row from the fifth.
But as she had done on Saturday with a four-putt bogey at the last hole, Kim imploded by taking four putts at the par-five ninth for a double bogey that dropped her four back as Park birdied.
The ultra-steady Park was never again threatened.
“In-bee was very (solid) today, and I tried to find the chance to get close to her, but I didn’t have my A Game to get there today,” said Kim, who chipped in to force a playoff with Park in Hawaii two months ago and won it by holing out from 154 yards.
As a consolation, Kim also leapfrogged previous world number one New Zealander Lydia Ko into number two in the rankings.
Lexi Thompson fired a 66 to charge into third at 12-under, one better than Brittany Lincicome (68), winner of the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration.
Morgan Pressel (70) and 17-year-old Canadian Brooke Henderson (71) tied for fifth on 282.
Editing by Andrew Both