(Reuters) - South Korean Park Sung-hyun won her second major title when she overcame compatriot Ryu So-yeon and Japan’s Nasa Hataoka in a three-way playoff at the Women’s PGA Championship outside Chicago on Sunday.
Less than a year after capturing the U.S. Women’s Open, the sweet-swinging Park doubled her major tally when she sank a 10-foot birdie putt at the second extra hole to edge Ryu at Kemper Lakes in Kildeer, Illinois.
The normally stoic 24-year-old burst into tears when victory was secured as she hugged her caddie David Jones after barely displaying a hint of emotion all day.
Park and Ryu birdied the first extra hole to eliminate Hataoka, who had threatened to steal a stunning victory when she came from nine strokes behind with a closing eight-under-par 64.
Hataoka waited in the clubhouse for a couple of hours to see whether her 10-under 278 total would be enough for the 19-year-old to claim a maiden major triumph.
However, the total was matched by Park, who carded a closing 69, while overnight leader Ryu joined them by carding a battling 73 in strong and gusty winds which made club selection little more than guesswork at times.
The trio finished three shots clear of the chasing pack.
“It’s been a tough year for me with five missed cuts. I think all the work I’ve done has paid off today. That’s what really made me cry,” Park told reporters. “I can’t still believe that I’m sitting right next to this trophy.”
Earlier, Ryu, also a winner of two majors, seemed likely to complete the third leg of a career grand slam when she led by two strokes with two holes remaining in regulation.
Those hopes were dashed when she made double-bogey at the par-three 17th after finding water with her seven-iron tee shot, the Korean admitting she had trouble gauging what club to use in the fluctuating wind.
Park and Ryu both missed good birdie chances at the final hole of regulation but proved quick learners at the same par-four to start the playoff.
After Ryu banged in a 15-foot birdie from the fringe, Park matched her from nine feet to send the Korean pair to the par-four 16th.
Play was briefly interrupted by nearby lightning after they had hit their approach shots but it proved merely a stay of execution for Ryu, who said she did not know the reticent Park that well.
“I guess she’s very shy, and I know because she’s not really comfortable with the language in the U.S. and because of that she’s not really speaking much on the golf course,” Ryu said.
“But at the same time, even speaking in Korean, she’s not really talking much. I never really had a chance to get to know her, but on the golf course I know she always wants to play her A-game.”
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by John O'Brien