The day was windy, storms were rolling in and the finish to the 2018 Women’s PGA Championship couldn’t have been more dramatic.
Sung Hyun Park walked away with her second career major but it came after some huge putts and an incredible save from a near-impossible situation.
The field went off early to try and out-run the predicted late afternoon storms at Kemper Lakes but Park weathered the storms before they came.
Park was in the final group with Brooke Henderson and So Yeon Ryu. Rookie Nasa Hataoka got everyone’s attention when she made a run up the scoreboard and posted 10-under par with a closing 64.
Henderson was off her game, leaving Ryu and Park to fight it out down the stretch. Ryu started the day with a three shot lead but saw it shrink to a one-shot lead over Park through 15. At the 16th hole when Park’s second came up short and settled into the high weeds fronting the lake. Her lie was next-to-impossible. She hacked it out and saw the ball settle four feet from the hole. She then watched Ryu roll in a 20-footer for birdie. Park made a super par save but still fell two back with two holes to play.
At the par-three 17th, Ryu made the mistake of the day when she hooked her tee shot into the water left, took double-bogey and blew her lead.
Pars at 18 brought Hataoka from the range for a three-woman playoff.
Ryu and Park both birdied 18, the first playoff hole, sending the rookie back to the clubhouse.
On the second playoff hole, he par four 16th, Ryu’s second finished 15 feet from the hole then she watched as Park stuck a wedge shot within eight feet. Officials sent the players to shelter as a front rolled over them. After a brief delay, they went back to face their birdie putts.
Ryu missed, Park didn’t. After he closing round of 69 to Ryu’s 73, Park went birdie-birdie for the win.
The normally unemotional Park wept as she walked away from the winning putt.
“It was a really long round today, and I can’t still believe that I’m sitting right next to this trophy,” she said. “This win means a lot to me since it made me go one step forward. I think I’ve been waiting this time for such a long time since I’ve been having a tough year this year especially, and this is my second major win in two years, and I can’t still believe what I’ve done, but I’m really happy.”