Rogers, AK – Inbee Park continued her dominant 2013 campaign Sunday at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, where she birdied the first playoff hole to defeat So Yeon Ryu.
Park birdied No. 18 at Pinnacle Country Club to wrap up a final-round, 4-under 67 and finish 54 holes at 12-under-par 201. Ryu, playing two groups back, also birdied the par-5 last to card a 69 and join the world No. 1 atop the leaderboard.
Back at the 18th tee, Park found the fairway, while Ryu landed in the rough. The former then dropped her second shot in the first cut of rough to the left of the green, while the latter laid up short.
After Ryu sent her third shot through the green to the back fringe, Park dropped her chip within three feet of the cup. With one of the LPGA Tour's best putters looking at a short birdie putt, Ryu needed to chip in to continue the playoff. And she nearly did, rolling her fourth shot inches past the hole.
Park then calmly tapped in for birdie, securing her fifth LPGA Tour win of the season and eighth of her career in the process. Already having won both of this season's majors, including the LPGA Championship in her previous start, Park will look to make it three in a row next week at the U.S. Women's Open Championship.
"I was able to putt really well on this golf course and play very solid last three days and, yeah, I mean I holed a lot of putts," said Park. "I've won a lot of times this year, but I still feel the pressure coming into the final round every time and definitely feel a lot of pressure in the playoff."
Mika Miyazato shot 67 to finish in third place at 11-under, while University of Arkansas graduate Stacy Lewis (71), amateur Lydia Ko (68) and I.K. Kim (69) took fourth at minus-10.
Suzann Pettersen (67), Paula Creamer (68), Beatriz Recari (72) and Chie Arimura (72) shared seventh at 9-under, one shot ahead of defending champion Ai Miyazato (68) and Haeji Kang (67).
Ryu, one of four overnight leaders, held a 2-stroke lead over five players Sunday after tallying birdies on two of her opening 12 holes.
The advantage disappeared at the 13th, however, as Ryu tripped to a double- bogey 6 and dropped out of the top spot, allowing Park and Mika Miyazato to move in front at 11-under.
Miyazato birdied the 15th to grab a share of the lead, but she couldn't keep pace and parred out to finish third.
Park, who had a hat trick of birdies from the sixth and recovered from a bogey at the 11th with a gain at No. 14, wasn't done. After three straight pars, the world No. 1 dropped her approach within eight feet at the last and drained the putt to move one stroke ahead of Ryu, who birdied the 17th.
Needing a birdie to force a playoff, Ryu found the rough off the tee, sent her second shot off the green to the right, chipped within five feet and holed the putt for the tie.
"Inbee and I practice together a lot so when we are standing at the 18th hole, it feels like just practice round," Ryu said. "I wasn't really nervous. Two players cannot be champion, so (Inbee deserved it)."
NOTES: Ko, 16, recorded her third top-10 finish on the LPGA Tour this season ... Lewis won this event in 2007 as an amateur when it was shortened to just 18 holes due to rain, but the win was unofficial ... Rookie Ayako Uehara carded her first career hole-in-one on the par-3 17th hole.