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July 1, 2013

Park runs away with LPGA U.S. Open for third straight major victory

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. — Inbee Park set many golfing goals. Etching her name alongside Babe Zaharias was never one of them.

Yet now they’re the only two players to win the first three majors 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,” Park said. “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 finished at 8 under to win by four strokes. Her 2-over 74 in the final round was more than enough, with Sebonack’s trying conditions keeping any rivals from making a run. Only three players were under par for the tournament.

Fellow South Korean I.K. Kim also shot 74 for her second runner-up finish at a major.

Zaharias won the year’s first three majors in 1950 — back when there were only three. Now there are five, so Grand Slam might not quite be the right term if Park wins all of them.

Ahead by four strokes at the start of the round, Park birdied the ninth and 10th holes to extend her lead. She has won six times already this year, including three straight tournaments. Park added to another historic U.S. Women’s Open victory in 2008, when she became the event’s youngest champion at age 19.

“I didn’t know what was going on at that time,” Park said. “I played very good golf then, but I didn’t know what I was playing for, and that was just my first win. It was a great championship then, but now I think I really appreciate more and I really know what this means.”

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