SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – Inbee Park set many golfing goals. Etching her name alongside Babe Didrikson Zaharias was never one of them.
Yet they are the only two LPGA players to win the first three major tournaments of the year. Park became the first to accomplish the feat in the modern era Sunday with her second U.S. Women’s Open title.
“Trying to put my name next to hers means just so much,” said Park, 24. “I would think I would never get there; it’s somewhere that I’ve never dreamed of. But all of a sudden, I’m there.”
The world’s top-ranked player closed with a 2-over-par 74 for an 8-under total of 280 and earned $585,000. She beat runner-up I.K. Kim, a fellow South Korean, by four strokes.
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Zaharias, perhaps the greatest female athlete of all time, won the year’s first three majors in 1950 — when there were only three. Now there are five, so Grand Slam might not be the proper term if Park wins all of them.
Up next is the Women’s British Open at St. Andrews on Aug. 1 to 4. The Evian Championship is from Sept. 12 to 15. Park won the French event last year, before it was elevated to a major.
“So I think the British Open is one I have to win,” she said. “So it would be great if I could win five, but I still think four means a Grand Slam.”
Laughing, Park added: “I think four out of five is very big.”
There were several years where the LPGA Tour had a mere two majors. The lone players to win three in the same year are Park, Zaharias, Mickey Wright (1961) and Pat Bradley (1986).
Park also won the U.S. Women’s Open in 2008.
Perry passes Couples
PITTSBURGH – Kenny Perry won the 50-and-older Senior Players Championship for his first major title, overtaking Seattle native Fred Couples with a final round of 6-under 64.
Perry finished at 19-under 261 at Fox Chapel, two shots ahead of Couples (68) and Duffy Waldorf (64). The 52-year-old Perry opened with a 71 and shot consecutive 63s in the next two rounds. He earned $405,000.
Perry was runner-up in the 1996 PGA Championship and 2009 Masters while on the PGA Tour. He tied for second in the Senior PGA Championship last month.
“I thought I was snakebit,” Perry said. “I got close so many times and I just seemed to mess up down the homestretch and not make it happen.”
Couples hurt his chances when he three-putted from 8 feet for a bogey on the 15th hole.
“There were a couple shots you always should have back,” Couples said. “The putt on (15) looked so easy and I just hammered it and I kind of flinched at it coming down the hill … it was a little bit of a sour day the way I played after I teed off.”
Kirk Triplett (72), a graduate of Pullman High School, tied for 60th place at 7 over.
Haas prevails in AT&T
BETHESDA, Md. – Bill Haas won the AT&T National, a PGA Tour event at Congressional Country Club, by three strokes over Roberto Castro.
Haas shot a 5-under 66 for a 12-under 272 total. The 31-year-old earned $1.17 million for his fifth Tour victory.
As many as six players had at least a share of the lead at some point until Haas rolled in a 10-foot birdie putt on No. 8. He made birdie putts of about 12 feet and 10 feet on the next two holes and was ahead by at least two shots for the entire back nine.
Castro shot a 69.
Ex-Washington Huskies player Richard H. Lee (69) tied for 16th place at 2 under.
Haas has won at least one PGA Tour event in each of the last four years, joining Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose in accomplishing that feat.