All hail Park, Korean golf 'attacker' and Women's Open champ
By Larry Fine
BEDMINSTER, New Jersey, July 16 (Reuters) - South Korean women's golf domination presented a new face on Sunday in U.S. Women's Open winner Park Sung-hyun, whose long-hitting and ultra-aggressive style set her apart from many compatriots.
The all-business Park plays with a poker-face intensity and crushes the ball with a flowing power swing that takes dead aim at her target.
She goes by the nickname, "Dak Gong," coined by Korean fans that translates into "just shut your mouth and attack," she explained through an interpreter after starting the final round three back and winning her first major by two shots.
"(Compared) to a lot of Korean female players, I guess I am more aggressive in my play," said 23-year-old Park. "So fans gave me that nickname last year that I just focus on attack and aggressiveness. And I'm happy for it."
LPGA Tour rookie Park finished with pair of five-under-par rounds of 67 to claim the $900,000 first prize and finish what she started at last year's U.S. Women's Open at CordeValle in California.
There she was the 36-hole leader but posted 74-74 in the last two rounds and splashed in the water on the 72nd hole to end up third, two shots from a playoff.
"I think compared to last year, I could say that I played probably a little bit more relaxed," said Park. "Based on that good experience that I had last year, I think I was able to garner the championship this year."
Park's triumph at Trump National Golf Club may have surprised some at the course owned by U.S. President Donald Trump, but would have been no surprise to fans back home.
She won seven times on the Korean LPGA (KLPGA) tour last year and this year is the runaway favorite to win LPGA Rookie of the Year honours with four top-10 finishes and a world ranking of 11 coming into the third major of the season.
Park's ability to maintain focus is a weapon that matches her obvious talent swinging the clubs.
"I think one of the most difficult things is to stay focused and keep that concentration level up because I know firsthand that once you lose it, your play is going to just go sideways."
Park's play was a one-way express lane to victory on Sunday, where she paused only to give a wave and a bow toward Trump on her way from the 18th to the scoring tent.
"I did have many winnings in other tournaments, but winning here at the U.S. Open means so much more and for that I am grateful and extremely happy," said Park, breaking into a rare smile. (Reporting by Larry Fine; Editing by Andrew Both)