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Park posts her maiden Sunshine Tour victory

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‘Proudly South African’ Carrie Park of South Korea rubber-stamped her status as a possible future world beater when she clinched her first Sunshine Ladies Tour title in spectacular fashion in the South African Women’s Masters on Saturday.

The 19-year-old held her nerve to construct a mature even-par 72 on a day of wind and drama at Rondebosch Golf Club as the expected charge from veteran pros Lee-Anne Pace and Ashleigh Buhai never got off the ground.

The petite Park was the picture of calm as she started her title bid with a two-shot lead over Buhai and Pace a further shot back.

That cool exterior slipped for the first time after she tapped in for par at the final hole to capture a five stroke victory over Buhai and England’s Kiran Matharu on a winning score of seven-under-par 209.

Not only did Park pocket the biggest pay cheque – R70 000 – of her short career, but victory in the R500 000 showpiece rocketed her to the top of the 2017 Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies.

‘I can’t believe I’ve done it; this is amazing,’ gushed Park. ‘I know how experienced Lee-Anne and Ashleigh are and I knew a two-shot lead wouldn’t be much if they started firing, so I just tried to stay inside the zone and keep everything else out of my head.

‘I had a few scary moments out there, but I kept it together and I am so proud that I didn’t fall apart on myself. I’m on top of the world right now.’

It wasn’t all smooth sailing for Park, who has lived in South Africa since 2009 and calls herself ‘Proudly South African’.

She interrupted straight pars over the first six holes with a birdie at the fourth, but surrendered her first shot of the day at the seventh. Level for the day at the turn, she caught a bad break as she started the back nine with a four shot lead.

‘My tee shot rolled just off the fairway into a patchy area,’ she said. ‘I took a few practice swings, and on the third swing, I saw the ball move about an inch, so I had to call a penalty on myself.

‘I finished the hole with a bogey and dropped another shot at 12 and suddenly, Ashleigh, Lee-Anne, Kiran and Nicole (Garcia) were breathing down my neck.’

Her pursuers battled to find some traction to narrow the gap in the gusting wind and Park was back in control with a birdie at 13. At 15, she made a superb par save and chipped for another birdie at 16.

’The wind pushed my call in the left greenside bunker at 15,’ said Park. ‘The ball was few inches from the edge and behind the ball there was a hole in the sand.

‘The ball was below my feet and I had little room to move, but I told myself just to try to get it on the green and try to save par. I hit a great shot and I holed a long left to right putt for par. That gave me a boost for the last three holes.’

Park took a conservative approach at the last two holes to protect her lead.

‘I didn’t want to risk anything on the last two holes, but I lagged it close at the 18th and it felt so good to have the tap-in left for par to seal the win,’ she said.

‘I’m taking a lot of confidence to the SA Women’s Open and I like the course because it suits my game, but it’s too early to talk about back-to-back victories. I’ve made a great start to the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies and hopefully I can build on that next week, because I really want to play for that R1-million again at the end of the season.’

Buhai and Matharu tied for second on two under after respective rounds of 73 and 75 and Garcia moved into fourth on one under with a 74. Pace signed for a 76 for a share of sixth with recent SuperSport Ladies Challenge champion Kim Williams, who closed with a 72.

Western Province amateur Katia Shaff won the Sally Little Trophy as the leading amateur. The Austrian-born player rallied with successive rounds of 73 after opening with an 81 to grab a share of  19th on 227.

Final Scores
(All players RSA unless otherwise indicated and amateurs specified as AMA)

209 Carrie Park S-KOR 69 68 72
214 Kiran Matharu GBR 69 72 73; Ashleigh Buhai 69 70 75
215 Nicole Garcia 69 72 74
216 Kim Williams 75 69 72; Lee-Anne Pace 70 70 76
217 Francesca Cuturi 72 71 74
218 Bertine Strauss 75 68 75; Stacy Bregman 72 74 72
219 Tandi von Ruben 74 73 72
221 Alexandra Lennartsson SWE 76 72 73; Monique Smit 74 70 77
222 Michelle Leigh 76 75 71
224 Bonita Bredenhann NAM 79 74 71; Rebecca Hudson ENG 77 73 74; Ivanna Samu 76 73 75
226 Anne-Lise Caudal FRA 77 72 77; Louise Larsson SWE 74 75 77
227 Katia Shaff (AMA) 81 73 73; Monja Richards 80 72 75; Kaleigh Telfer (AMA) 80 71 76; Lejan Lewthwaite 78 75 74; Kajal Mistry (AMA) 76 76 75; Melissa Eaton 75 79 73; Laila Hrindova SVK (AMA) 75 76 76; Alana Van Greuning 74 74 79; Mandy Adamson 74 73 80
228 Anna Becker-Frankel SWE 76 75 77
230 Kaylah Williams (AMA) 81 72 77; Mae Cornforth 78 74 78; Nobuhle Dlamini SWZ 74 77 79; Anna Sventrup SWE 74 76 80; Sofia Ljungqvist SWE 72 75 83
231 Morgana Robbertze 78 78 75
232 Chiara Contomathios (AMA) 79 73 80; Tijana Kraljevic 78 75 79
233 Aaliyah Abrahams (AMA) 80 78 75; Hanna Roos SWE 75 80 78
234 Bianca Wernich 80 74 80; Hannah Arnold USA 79 75 80; Clara Pietri SUI 76 83 75; Michelle Swanepoel 75 77 82
235 Lynette Fourie (AMA) 80 78 77; Flavia Namakula UGA 79 79 77
237 Yolanda Duma 81 75 81
238 Siviwe Duma 81 77 80; Maria Roos SWE 78 80 80
239 Nora Angehrn SUI 84 77 78; Leanda Schulze 82 80 77; Odette Booysen (AMA) 79 82 78
240 Marguerite Pienaar 87 80 73
241 Lumien Orton (AMA) 85 76 80; Laura Sedda ITA 82 79 80; Michelle de Vries 80 77 84
244 Zayb Fredericks (AMA) 84 79 81
245 Iman Adams (AMA) 88 77 80
246 Tara Griebenow (AMA) 84 79 83; Nina Grey (AMA) 82 84 80
247 Leslie Grandet MAD 84 80 83
248 Jordan Rothman (AMA) 86 79 83
249 Shawnelle de Lange (AMA) 86 82 81
250 Iliska Verwey 85 82 83; Sarah Osborn (AMA) 82 82 86
251 Minette Olivier (AMA) 84 79 88
252 Wilna Bredenhann NAM (AMA) 81 89 82
253 Jessica Green (AMA) 77 89 87
259 Muriel McIntyre CAN 87 85 87
261 La-Eeqah Adams (AMA) 86 85 90
266 Maxine Smet BEL (AMA) 92 84 90
269 Laura Welch CAN 90 94 85


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