Park powers to Ladies Open victory

2019-03-12 06:00
Carrie Park from South Korea claimed her fourth Sunshine Ladies Tour title with a five-shot victory in the Cape Town Ladies Open at Royal Cape Golf Club. PHOTO: Sunshine Ladies Tour

Carrie Park from South Korea claimed her fourth Sunshine Ladies Tour title with a five-shot victory in the Cape Town Ladies Open at Royal Cape Golf Club. PHOTO: Sunshine Ladies Tour

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Carrie Park turned on the style when it mattered most, making crucial birdies on the final three holes at Royal Cape Golf Club in Ottery to claim her fourth Sunshine Ladies Tour victory by five strokes in the Cape Town Ladies Open on Friday 8 March.

With just five holes to play, the Korean shared top spot on a bunched leader board with defending champion Lee-Anne Pace on three-under.

Amateur Kajal Mistry and Finland’s Tiia Koivistra were within striking distance just one shot back.

Park reeled off birdies on the par-five 14th and 16th holes and notched further gains at the par-four 17th and 18th holes to triumph.

Mistry and Anne-Lise Caudal from France – last year’s runner up – tied for second on two-under, with South African Tandi McCallum, Swiss golfer Caroline Rominger and Koivisto a stroke further back in joint fifth.

Park headed into the final day one shot behind Pace and Mistry, who shared the overnight lead on four-under.

“I started the round very well and was feeling good, but I lost it a little bit at the turn. I felt like I couldn’t get my address right and everything started leaking right,” she explained.

She cited the 14th as the turning point. With 183m to the flag into the wind for her second shot, Park hit a good 3-wood to set up a birdie.

With the south-easterly wind gusting up to 50km/h at times, Park’s four-under-par 70 in the final round was the low score of the day. With earlier rounds of 72 and 73 at the par-74 layout, she was also the only player to break par on each day this week.

Even more remarkable is that Park only arrived in the country on the eve of the tournament and stepped into the first round without the benefit of a practice round.

“I prepared really well for the tournament. When we transferred, I did exercises to stay loose and I slept really well on the flights. It was really important to me to play this week. I wanted to get used to the distance at sea level and the ball flight to prepare for the Investec South African Women’s Open next week. My first Sunshine Ladies Tour win was the SA Women’s Masters. I would love to have the double. I don’t know Westlake. I have heard that it is also tight and tree-lined and the greens are very undulating. I plan to play at least three practice rounds to prepare well for next week,” she said. She often jokes that she is Korean by birth, but her heart is South African. Her father enrolled her at the Seoul-born Park at Southdowns College at the age of 13. She joined Graeme Francis and the GFG Academy and soon after, began representing Gauteng North Golf Union. A former SA Amateur and SA Stroke Play champion, Park was named Women’s Golf South Africa Golfer of the Year in 2013 and she held the number one ranking for more than a year.

Mistry, meanwhile, banked a second runner-up finish of the season, to go with the second place finish in the SA Women’s Masters and a further two top-10s.

It was another remarkable result for the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation member, who remains in the third spot on the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit.

She has received a sponsor’s invitation to the R2-million Investec South African Ladies Open, co-sanctioned by the Ladies European Tour and is relishing her fifth Sunshine Ladies Tour start.

“I can’t wait to play in my first Ladies European Tour event,” said the 18-year-old Randpark golfer. “So far the season has exceeded my expectations. Originally my goal was to finish in the top 10 on the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit, but I think I need to reset and aim for the top three. I’m happy with my performance at Royal Cape. Coming second is a great result, but I was not too happy with all the fairways I missed this week. I only hit six in the final round, but my irons and short-game have been really strong. It was all a really good learning curve for next week.”

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