Park wins Kraft Nabisco by 4

9:28 PM, Apr 7, 2013   |    comments
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Rancho Mirage, CA (Sports Network) - Inbee Park rolled her way to a second major title on Sunday, firing a 3-under 69 to win the Kraft Nabisco Championship by four strokes.

Park took a 3-shot lead over Lizette Salas into the final round and quickly increased the margin with birdies on her first two holes at Mission Hills Country Club. The 24-year-old never relented, picking up four more birdies to close at 15-under 273. It marks the fifth LPGA Tour title for Park, whose other major championship victory came at the 2008 U.S. Women's Open.

"I played so solid this week and this is a tournament that I always wanted to win," Park said in a televised interview before leaping into Poppie's Pond -- a long-running tradition at the year's first major.

Salas failed to challenge Park after stumbling to a double bogey on her first hole, but reigning Rookie of the Year So Yeon Ryu did her best to apply the pressure.

Trying to win her second major championship, Ryu carded seven birdies en route to a 7-under 65 and a second-place finish. The 2011 U.S. Women's Open winner ended at 11-under 277.

"Inbee's putting is great so I didn't expect to win," said Ryu. "I just wanted top-5 and now I'm runner-up."

Salas, meanwhile, never recovered from her double-bogey stumble and turned in a final-round 79 to finish in a tie for 25th place at 2-under. She is still winless on the LPGA Tour.

Caroline Hedwall (68) and Suzann Pettersen (69) tied for third at 9-under, Haeji Kang (68) and Karrie Webb (72) ended knotted in fifth at 6-under and Jiyai Shin (71) highlighted a group of six tied for seventh at minus-5.

Fifteen-year-old phenom Lydia Ko shot 69 on Sunday and ended 72 holes at 2- under to claim low amateur status for the tournament.

World No. 1 Stacy Lewis turned in a final-round 72 and finished at 1-under 287.

"I've seen Inbee do this before," Lewis said in a televised interview. "When she rolls it you can't beat her. She's the best putter on tour. This course this year is a little softer than normal and I think that's to her advantage. She doesn't hit it quite as high as some other people."

Park showed off her aforementioned skills from the onset, drilling a birdie effort from over 20 feet on the first and turning the trick again from half the distance on the second to open an early 7-stroke lead.

Shortly thereafter, Pornanong Phatlum took advantage of Park's bogey on the sixth and cut the margin to five by dunking a 20-foot birdie roll on No. 7. The Thailand native failed to stay in contention, however, and played the rest of her round at 4-over.

Park, meanwhile, closed her outward nine with back-to-back birdies, coaxing home a short putt on the ninth to hit the turn with a 6-stroke lead at 15- under.

Ryu made her move around the turn, reeling off four birdies in five holes as Park struggled on the 10th. The leader found a fairway bunker with her first and escaped the sand into a thicket of branches in front of the green, eventually settling for bogey as her lead dropped to four.

But after parring the 11th, Park all but ensured her victory when she twisted home a slow-rolling, 20-foot birdie putt on the 12th and then drained another birdie effort, this one from straightaway 10 feet, on the next to reach 16- under.

A rare stumble on the 17th -- a missed par putt from inside four feet -- followed, but an easy par on the last and a leap into Poppie's Pond officially sealed Park's second major title.

"I was really worried about the first three holes, and the first three holes went really well today and that really made my day much easier," continued Park. "I holed a lot of long putts today, that's for sure."

NOTES: Park has recorded four victories in her last 16 starts. She joins Lewis as the second player this season to win two tournaments ... Park's previous best finish at this event was ninth in 2008 ... Ryu is a six-time victor on the Korean Ladies Professional Golf Association (KLPGA), where she was a rookie in 2008 ... Salas entered the tournament with three top-10 finishes in her previous four starts.

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