Park Wins LPGA Big Apple Classic

Sunday, July 28th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (AP) _ Gloria Park made a 6-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole Sunday to beat Hee-Won Han and win the LPGA Big Apple Classic.

The two South Koreans held off Annika Sorenstam in the final group of the day and finished 72 holes at 14-under 270.

Sorenstam, the leading money-winner on tour who has six victories this year, shot a 1-under 70 and missed the playoff by one stroke.

Park, who started the final round tied for the lead with Sorenstam, shot a 69 Sunday, while Han, the tour's rookie of the year in 2001, had a 67.

The victory at the 6,161-yard Wykagyl Country Club course was the second for Park, who is in her third year on tour. The 22-year-old earned $142,500, almost matching her total of $168,788 that had her 35th on the money list starting the week. She won the Williams Championship last year.

Park matched the tournament record with an 8-under 63 Saturday, but Sorenstam, who won this event in 1998 and 2000, had a third-round 64 to stay even.

Park started the final round just as hot, making birdies on Nos. 1 and 3, both par-5s, to go 14 under and take a two-stroke lead.

She extended the lead to three strokes with a birdie on the par-4 9th, but saw it drop to one when she bogeyed the par-4 14th while Han and Sorenstam birdied it to get to 13 and 12 under, respectively.

Han had a birdie on the par-5 15th and Park parred, and the two stayed tied until the playoff hole.

Sorenstam, who finished in the top three for the eighth straight event, got within one shot when she parred the par-3 16th out of a bunker while the others both three-putted for bogeys.

The three parred Nos. 17 and 18, but Sorenstam nearly joined the playoff. Her birdie putt from about 15 feet lipped out on the final hole of regulation. Han had an 8-footer for birdie and the win, but it just slid by.

They played No. 18, a 481-yard par-5, as the playoff hole and Park hit her third shot from about 100 yards within 6 feet and made the putt. Han's second shot from a downhill lie about 40 yards closer left her a birdie putt from about 40 feet and she couldn't make it.

Karrie Webb finished with a 67 and was at 12-under 272, while Beth Daniel also closed with a 67 and was at 274.

The tournament was sponsored by Sybase and had a purse of $950,000.