LPGA Hall of Famer Inbee Park cruised to a final-round 2-under 70 to claim a wire-to-wire victory at the Kia Classic.
The Korean superstar entered her final day at Aviara Golf Club holding a five-shot lead, and after 18 more holes that’s exactly how it ended.
Park was 14-under par, five shots clear of Amy Olson, (68) and Lexi Thompson (69), who tied for second on 9-under par.
“Everybody asks me like, ‘Do you still get nervous?’ Yes, of course. ‘But you look so comfortable. Are you comfortable?’ I’m like no, what do you expect?,” said Park with a smile.
“What is special about this week is I always love to play [the Kia Classic] and I have played really, really well on this golf course but I was never able to win.
“I looked at the trophy before the final round and thought I almost had it a couple of times. Finally being able to win is a relief and it is a beautiful trophy.”
It was career win No. 21 for Park, who joins LPGA Tour Founder Marilynn Smith at No. 25 on the all-time wins list and moves within four of matching Se Ri Pak as the winningest player from the Republic of Korea in LPGA Tour history.
“It’s a big honor to put my name next to someone like Marilynn Smith, a Founder on the LPGA,” said Park, who earned $270,000 for the win, and passes the $17 million threshold in career earnings with $17,003,925.
“I’m going to try and keep playing my best to follow her footsteps.
“She [Se Ri Pak] gave a lot of courage to women golfers in Korea that we can compete out on the LPGA. Being able to do things that follow her steps is always a great honor. Growing up, I definitely looked at Se Ri as one of my top players to look up to. It’s always a good vibe going into the major tournament.”
World No. 1 Jin Young Ko (70) finished solo fourth on 8 under par.
Rounding out the top-5 finishers were Hyo Joo Kim (70) and Minjee Lee (72), who were T5 on 7 under.
The LPGA will remain in the Golden State, traveling just a couple hours northeast to Ranch Mirage for the ANA Inspiration – the season’s first major.
Leaderboard: Top 5
Pos-Player-To Par (Rd 4)
1. Inbee Park -14 (-2)
2. Amy Olson -9 (-4)
2. Lexi Thompson -9 (-3)
4. Jin Young Ko -8 (-2)
5. Hyo Joo Kim -7 (-2)
5. Minjee Lee -7 (E)