<
>

Park sinks 20-footer on 18; Sorenstam sixth

5/5/2003

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. -- Grace Park's first shot Sunday was a drive into the water that led to a double-bogey. Her last one of the round was a beauty, a double-breaking par putt of nearly 20 feet that gave her a one-stroke victory in the inaugural Michelob Light Open.

Park began the day with a one-stroke lead over Cristie Kerr, but immediately gave it away with the double-bogey on No. 1, a bogey on 2 and a bogey on No. 4 that included a shank into the gallery.

But she rallied for consecutive birdies on holes 5-7, and her par save on 18 left her one stroke in front of three players and gave her a fourth tour victory.

After her rotten start, ''I literally said it to myself: 'Believe in yourself.' ... If it's meant to be, things will come your way,'' she said.

Park finished Sunday with an even-par 71 and was 9 under for the
tournament, a stroke ahead of Kerr (71), Karrie Webb (67) and
Lorena Ochoa (69).

Annika Sorenstam shot her third straight 70 and finished in
sixth place at 6 under. Mi-Hyun Kim closed with a 68 and finished
fifth.

Kerr led for most of Sunday and had a two-stroke lead with four
holes remaining, but was foiled in her attempt to become the first
American to win an LPGA event in nearly 10 months when she made
bogeys at the par-5 15th and again at 16.

Meg Mallon was the last U.S. golfer to win a women's event, the
Canadian Women's Open in mid-July.

Kerr had played the par-5s brilliantly all week, going 10 under
on the holes until she bogeyed 15.

''I felt really good about the way I was striking the ball out
there. Unfortunately, coming down the stretch I hit two bad
shots,'' she said.

Kerr gave credit to Park, her playing partner and good friend,
for reviving her round.

''I was trying not to watch. ... She had a horrible start,''
Kerr said of Park, who will be a bridesmaid at Kerr's upcoming
wedding. ''A lot of people would have given up.''

Needing only par at 18 for the victory, Park drove into the
rough, missed the green with her second shot and chipped to 20
feet. Kerr, meanwhile, had a 35-foot putt for birdie that would
have given her the victory if Park couldn't save par.

''I thought I had a putt to win. It was a tough shot, but if I
had made it and Park missed, I would've won,'' Kerr said. ''I
thought she would have a tough time making par.''

But Kerr missed her birdie putt, and Park, after taking a long
time to line up her putt on the heavily undulated green, made par
for the victory.

''It was kind of a double breaker,'' Park said of the final
putt. She and caddie David Brooker ''just kept fidgeting with it,
looking for a good line.''

Sorenstam said the Kingsmill course, site of a PGA Tour event
last year, provided good experience for the Colonial later this
month where she'll play against PGA Tour pros.

''If this is any indication of what kind of course they play,
it's fantastic,'' Sorenstam said. ''The setup, the conditions, the
consistency.

''These are the type of courses I would love to play all the
time, but we just don't have it.''

The women played the Kingsmill course at 6,285 yards, compared
to 6,853 yards at last year's PGA Michelob Championship. Several
holes were played at the same length.

Park's victory continues a personal streak, extending to her
days of junior golf, of winning tournaments she leads heading into
the final day.

Park said she tried not to think about that streak while she was
on the course, but acknowledged it crept into her mind.

''Maybe I had little doubts here and there (on the front nine),
but my caddie just kept saying to me, 'We can do it. we can do it.'
And my streak still stands.''