Park Inbee comes up short of career grand slam at Women’s British Open

July 14, 2014
Park Inbee watches a bunker shot during the final round of the Ricoh Women's British Open on July 13, 2014, at Royal Birkdale Golf Club in Southport, England. (AP)

Park Inbee watches a bunker shot during the final round of the Ricoh Women’s British Open on July 13, 2014, at Royal Birkdale Golf Club in Southport, England. (AP)

SOUTHPORT, England (Yonhap) — South Korean LPGA Tour star Park Inbee came up short of completing a historic career grand slam on Sunday at the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

Park finished fourth in the season’s third major tournament at 1-over 289 at par-72 at Royal Birkdale Golf Club, two strokes behind the champion, Mo Martin of the United States.

Park entered the final round at 4-under, nursing a one-shot lead over four golfers, including fellow South Korean Ahn Sun-ju and two-time major champ Suzann Pettersen of Norway. But uncharacteristically shaky off the tee all day, Park had an up-and-down round of 77 that included six bogeys, one double bogey and three birdies.

A victory here would have given Park at least a win in four LPGA majors and made her the first Asian, and the seventh overall, to accomplish the career grand slam.

The South Korean still had a two-shot lead after the front nine, but fell apart on the back nine. She found deep rough left of the fairway at the 10th, and her second shot advanced only a few yards and ended up in more rough. Her third shot fell short of the green and she walked away with a double bogey on the par-4 hole.

On the par-4 11th, Park missed the green with her second shot and her chip shot ended up well below the hole. She two-putted from there for a bogey that dropped her to even par for the tournament.

She drained a long birdie putt on the par-4 13th but that turned out to be her last birdie of the day. She missed the green long on the par-3 14th and the bogey dropped her back to even par.

Park trailed the clubhouse leader Martin by one stroke with two holes to play. The final two holes were both par-5s, but Park, who’d birdied the 17th hole in each of the first three days, managed just a par there on Sunday, and committed a bogey on the 18th after finding rough off the tee.

Park afterward lamented her missed opportunity.

“If I had capitalized on a few opportunities, things would have been different today,” she said. “I missed some short putts early and I lost some confidence on the greens.”

Park said she felt she could still win the championship with two holes remaining but the windy conditions did her in.

“I thought I could birdie at least one of the two remaining holes,” she said. “I could have reached the green in two on the final hole but I was disappointed that my tee shot ended up in the rough. The mistake off the tee was the most devastating one for me.”

The LPGA Tour’s designations of major championships have varied over the years. The Women’s British Open only became a major in 2001, replacing the du Maurier Classic. The tour has had four majors for years before elevating the Evian Championship to a fifth major in 2013.

Park has won the U.S. Women’s Open in 2008 and 2013, the Kraft Nabisco Championship in 2013 and the LPGA Championship in 2013.

Golfers who have won four different majors at least once during the four-major eras — from 1955 to 1966 and again from 1983 to 2012 — are recognized as having accomplished the career grand slam. Karrie Webb of Australia is the only one to have won five different majors over her career for a super career grand slam.

Park can still join the exclusive list with a victory at the Evian Championship in September. Park won the event when it was called the Evian Masters in 2012, a year before it became the fifth major.

Park said, though, the close call here this weekend will gnaw at her.

“I felt some pressure but I did the best I could because I knew I had a chance to win,” she said. “I didn’t get the result I wanted. There is the Evian Championship in September for the grand slam but personally, the British Open was the one I wanted more. I am going to give it another shot next year.”

Park enjoyed a banner year in 2013, winning six tournaments, including three majors, en route to winning the tour’s Player of the Year honors and topping the money list. She became the first golfer in a four-major era to win the season’s first three majors in a row.

She rose to No. 1 in the world rankings in April last year and stayed there for 59 weeks, before ceding the throne last month to Stacy Lewis of the United States, who has won three times this year.

As her slow start to the season coincided with Lewis’ hot streak, Park dropped another spot to No. 3 in late June.