Originally created 11/04/02

Park wins World Ladies Match Play



NARITA, Japan -- Now Grace Park is ready for the LPGA season to end.

Park won the World Ladies Match Play Championship on Sunday, beating Japan's Midori Yoneyama with a 12-foot birdie putt on the 22nd hole.

"It's been a long year," said Park, who has a victory in each of her three seasons on the LPGA Tour. " I was waiting for this season to be over.

"I played well in the first part of the season, but fell apart since August. I had been playing better since then, but just couldn't get over the hump.

"I came here, played solid, except for today, hung in there and won. I couldn't be happier."

Yoneyama, ranked 15th among the 16 Japan LPGA players who began play in the 32-woman field, blew a chance to end the match on the 20th hole when her 2-foot par slid by the hole.

"I thought it was over then," said Park, who salvaged a bogey on the hole after hitting into the trees at the side of the green. "I guess I was getting a little tired and it was fortunate when Midori missed that putt. But that's the way it goes."

Yoneyama also had a chance to win on the 18th hole, but her long birdie putt stopped an inch short - sending the players to extra holes on the Narita Golf Club course.

Park dropped the third and fifth holes with bogeys, but closed the gap to one with a 6-foot birdie putt on No. 9 and tied it on No. 13 when Yoneyama missed a 5-footer for par.

Park, the 1998 U.S. Amateur champion as a freshman at Arizona State, also beat Japan's Mikino Kubo, Australia's Karrie Webb and Japan's Yuri Fudoh en route to her third LPGA Tour title in three seasons. The 23-year-old Phoenix-based player earned $153,000 to jump from 13th to eighth on the money list with $732,749.

The 26-year-old Yoneyama earned $90,000.

In the morning semifinals, Yoneyama birdied the last three holes to edge South Korea's Hee-Won Han in 19 holes, and Park routed Sweden's Carin Koch 5 and 4.

"When you're down a few, you feel like you have to make all the putts and like you're playing worse than you are," said Koch, four months' pregnant with her second child.

Koch, scheduled to play the final two events of the season before taking a long break, rebounded to beat Han 1-up in the third-place match.