RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. —
Park was four victories in her last 16 events. She won the LPGA Thailand in February in her season debut when Ariya Jutanugarn closed with a triple bogey to blow a two-stroke lead.
“I’ve played five tournaments on the LPGA Tour and I’ve won two of them, which is a very good start,” Park said. “It’s pressure off me for the rest of the season.”
Last year, Park won twice, had six runner-up finishes and topped the money list. She won the Evian Masters in July in France, tied for third in her next start, added three straight second-place finishes and capped the run with a victory in October in the LPGA Malaysia.
“I’ve seen Inbee do this before,” top-ranked Stacy Lewis said. “I played with her at Evian last year when she had, I think, 22 or 23 putts in the final round. When she rolls it, you can’t beat her. She’s the best putter on tour. The course here is a little softer than normal, so I think that’s to her advantage.”
The 22-year-old Ryu, playing five groups ahead of Park, shot a bogey-free 65 — the best round of the week. Ryu is close friends with Park and they played a practice round together before the tournament.
“She looks like she played another golf course,” said Ryu, the 2011 U.S. Women’s Open champion. “This golf course is really hard, and especially before we started the tournament, she really worried about the game because her ball flight is a little low, but this golf course has pretty firm greens, so she said, ‘Oh, I don’t think I can stop it on the greens because my ball flight is too low.’ ... I think she was lying to me.”
Salas, the 23-year-old former University of Southern California player who grew up west of Los Angeles in Azusa, had a 79 to tie for 25th at 2 under.