Park In-bee wins title as LPGA’s top prize earner
Park is the first Korean to win the LPGA Tour prize money title in back-to-back seasons. Shin Ji-yai was the first Korean to be the top prize earner in 2009, and Choi Na-yeon followed in 2010. Park was the 2012 season winner with $2.28 million.
In the CME Group Titleholders tournament held at the Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Florida, Park earned $62,777 by finishing the event in fifth place. She carded a 4-under 68 in the final round for a four-round total of 11 under, four strokes behind winner Feng Shanshan of China.
Park has earned a total of $2.45 million this season, edging her rival Suzann Pettersen of Norway, who earned prize $2.29 million, and Stacy Lewis of the United States, who finished third with $1.93 million. Pettersen ended the Titleholders tournament in a four-way tie for 29th at 1 under, and Lewis finished tied for sixth at 10 under.
Park started the event $110,000 ahead of Pettersen and $500,000 in front of Lewis, with a top prize of $700,000 on the line.
By clinching the LPGA’s two biggest titles, Park again celebrated her big season, which included three major titles and a Rolex Player of the Year honor. She is the first Korean to win the title.
However, Park failed to clinch the Vare Trophy, which is given to a player with the lowest scoring average in the LPGA Tour. Lewis, the Women’s British Open champion, became the first American since Beth Daniel in 1994 to win the Vare title.
The only other award at stake Sunday was rookie of the year. That went to Moriya Jutanugarn of Thailand, who closed with a 72. She won by one point over Caroline Masson of Germany.
“To remain as the world No. 1 at the end of the season, the player of the year award and the total prize title were my three goals for this season,” Park told reporters. “And I’m extremely happy that I have clinched them all. I can’t complain for anything because it was a very successful season for me.”
Park has been ranked No. 1 since April. After winning her third straight major at the U.S. Women’s Open in July, Park went into a minor slump but was able to close out the season with two top-10 finishes. She still has one event left before taking her winter break possibly in Australia.
BY KWON SANG-SOO, AP [email@example.com]