KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) – Inbee Park rallied to win the LPGA Malaysia on Sunday for her second victory of the year, closing with a 4-under 67 to beat fellow South Korean player Na Yeon Choi by two strokes.
Park took the lead with a tap-in birdie on the par-4 13th and moved two shots ahead with another short birdie putt on the par-4 14th. She got away with bogeys on the final two holes when Choi made a double bogey on the par-3 17th in her closing 71.
“I'm very happy to win,'' Park said. “I played for the second time here, and it's the first time I've won twice in one year, so I'm really proud of myself for that.''
She won the Evian Masters in July in France and has six straight top-three finishes and 10 top-10s in a row. In her previous three events, she tied for second in the Safeway Classic and finished second in the Canadian Women's Open and Women's British Open.
“I think my golf has improved, everything, hitting the ball, chipping, putting. Everything has really improved,'' said Park, also the 2008 U.S. Women's Open champion. “I worked really hard on my swing. I've been hitting it very solid all year. So, that gave me a lot more birdie chances.''
Two strokes behind Choi entering the round and three behind with 10 holes left, Park picked up a stroke when the defending champion bogeyed the par-4 ninth, then pulled even with birdies on the par-4 10th and 11th holes. Park holed a 20-foot putt on 10, and a 15-footer on 11.
“I think I prefer leading, because I think it's much easier the last day,'' Park said. “But, I mean, I had to play good on the final day to win. I knew that Na Yeon was really strong on this golf course and I knew she really liked this golf course. So I knew I had to go really low today to win, make a lot of birdies.''
Choi's tee shot on the 17th ended up an unplayable lie in a bunker.
“I think I had bad luck,'' said Choi, the U.S. Women's Open winner in July. “My ball was unplayable. I couldn't hit it from there. I'd really like to congratulate Inbee, my friend. I could see she was really nervous. She's usually not nervous at all. She was nervous today. I'm very happy my friend won this week.''
Park finished at 15-under 269 at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club to match the tournament record in the event that started in 2010. She earned $285,000 to push her tour-leading total to $1,954,608.
Australia's Karrie Webb shot a 68 to finish third at 12 under, and Scotland's Catriona Matthew was another stroke back after a 67.
South Korea's So Yeon Ryu (66) was 10 under, and Australia's Lindsey Wright (67) and American Paula Creamer (69) were 9 under. American Jessica Korda matched the tournament record with a 64 to finish eighth at 8 under.
Norway's Suzann Pettersen, tied for fourth after the third round, had a 75 to drop into a tie for 19th at 4 under.
Michelle Wie closed with a 68 to tie for 38th at 1 over, and top-ranked Yani Tseng had a 71 to tie for 49th at 5 over. The Taiwanese star has struggled after winning three times in the first five events of the season.
American Morgan Pressel also had another frustrating week in a season derailed by thumb and wrist injuries, shooting 79-83-81-75 to finish 67th among the 68 finishers at 34 over – 49 strokes behind Park.
The tournament opened the LPGA Tour's four-event Asian swing. The tour will be in South Korea, Taiwan and Japan the next three weeks.