IRVING, Texas (AP) — Inbee Park loves coming to Texas. For the second time in three years, she’s leaving the Lone Star State with a trophy.
Two years after winning the LPGA Tour’s inaugural North Texas Shootout, Park closed with a bogey-free 6-under 65 on Sunday to win it again, this time by three strokes over Cristie Kerr and Hee Young Park.
“I don’t know how I did it, but I did it twice,” Inbee Park said. “I love this golf course. … It seems like it really suits my eye.”
Park, ranked No. 2 in the world, never surrendered the lead after consecutive birdies at the second and third holes at Las Colinas Country Club, finishing at 15-under 269 for her second victory this year and 14th on the tour. This is the fourth season in a row the 26-year-old South Korean player has multiple victories.
Kerr had three consecutive birdies to finish her round of 66. Hee Young Park also had a 66, birdieing the final two holes after her only bogey at No. 16.
“Can’t complain,” the 37-year-old Kerr said. “I was great mentally. … I thought I had to shoot at least 5 or 6 under to have a chance, and I did that.”
Lydia Ko, coming off a win last week in California, will maintain the No. 1 ranking even after a closing 71 to tie for 41st at even par. The 18-year-old from New Zealand is donating her $6,241 check to Nepal earthquake relief.
“I didn’t know if I was even going to be able to make the cut or even make a donation,” said Ko, who was just on the line to make the primary cut Friday and secondary cut Saturday. “Luckily, I was able to play all four days. … The last three days was a lot of grinding, but I’m happy that I can contribute.”
Lexi Thompson, who shared the third-round lead with Park, closed with a 69 to tie for fourth with Maria McBride (65) at 11 under.
A stroke behind Park midway through the round, Thompson was set to get even again after her approach to about 5 feet at the 415-yard ninth hole. But before making that birdie putt, Park curled in a much longer putt there to get to 12 under.
“That really got me going into the momentum, and that definitely gave me a lot of confidence on the greens,” Park said. “I thought maybe today is not the day for me on the putting because it didn’t want to go in on the front nine.”
Park was four strokes ahead of Thompson after a 10-foot birdie putt at the 390-yard 15th hole to get to 14 under. Thompson hit her approach through that green and made a bogey.
Park, the HSBC Women’s Champions winner in March in Singapore, pushed her career total to nearly $10.8 million with the $195,000 first-prize check.
Angela Stanford, who lives in nearby Fort Worth and attended TCU, was at 10 under after a 69. That was a stroke ahead of a trio of defending champion Stacy Lewis (67), Juli Inkster (67) and Karrie Webb (70).
It was the first top-10 finish since 2011 for Inkster, the 54-year-old Solheim Cup captain and 31-time tour winner.
McBride made only $49,315 in her 32 previous starts since 2012, when the Swede had her last top-10 finish. The tie for fourth will net her $61,259 after a round with two eagles, and just missing a third on the final hole.
Brooke Henderson, the 17-year-old Canadian who nearly made a playoff last week in San Francisco and was the second-round leader in Texas, opened Sunday with a birdie to get to 9 under and match the leaders who had not yet teed off.
But Henderson was out of contention after a three-hole stretch that started with a bogey at the par-5 third hole, where her approach settled in a concrete culvert under a city street between holes. She double bogeyed the par-3 fourth after her tee shot went in the water, then had another bogey at the fifth hole.
Henderson’s 73 left in in a tie for 13th at 6-under 278.
The LPGA Tour has denied Henderson a membership waiver to its minimum age requirement of 18. To make the field in Texas, she took an overnight flight after finishing the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic and then had to endure a qualifying round stretched over two days because of weather before a playoff.
“It has been a long week,” she said. “I’m excited to sort of go and relax a little bit while I caddie for my sister in South Carolina. But it’s been a lot of fun and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
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