SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – Is it time to start thinking up names?
The Quintuple Slam? The V Slam? The Penta Slam?
Inbee Park of South Korea methodically marched to history Sunday at seaside Sebonack Golf Club with an authoritative four-stroke victory in the 68th U.S. Women’s Open, joining Babe Zaharias as the only players in LPGA history to win the first three major championships of the season.
With a final-round 2-over-par-74, the world No. 1 kept runner-up I.K. Kim (74) at bay throughout the cloudy day and now is three-fifths of the way toward an unprecedented sweep of all five majors on the LPGA tour’s calendar this season.
In a nod toward her native country, perhaps it should be called the Da-seot (five in Korean) Slam?
“I think I have a heartbeat. I don’t know if Inbee has one,” said Karrie Webb, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame who has won seven majors. She tied for 13th. “You can obviously feel for someone like I.K. Kim who would be winning any other U.S. Open on this golf course if it weren’t for Inbee. Sometimes it’s just not good enough when someone is as hot as Inbee is.”
Park finished at 8-under 280, with Kim at 4-under 284. So Yeon Ryu, the 2011 winner of this championship, finished in third at 1 under with a closing 72. Paula Creamer, the 2010 winner, shot 72 and finished in a tie for fourth with Angela Stanford (74) and Jodi Ewart Shadoff (76) at 1 over.
With her win Sunday and her previous wins in the Kraft Nabisco Championship in April and the Wegmans LPGA Championship in June, Park, 24, joins Zaharias (in 1950 when only three majors were played), Mickey Wright (1961) and Pat Bradley (1986) as the only players in LPGA history to win three majors in a season.
Park will try to do what only Wright (1961-62) and Tiger Woods (2000-01) have done in the history of golf – win four consecutive professional major championships when the Ricoh Women’s British Open is contested Aug. 1-4 at the home of golf, the Old Course at St. Andrews. Park would become the only player to win four pro majors in a single season with a victory there.
If Park were to win in Scotland, the Evian Masters in France from Sept. 12-15, a major for the first time this year, would be the final notch in an unparalleled annual span of major championship glory.
As it stands now, her 2013 is as good as some careers. Park’s win Sunday was her third in a row, her sixth of the season and her eighth in her last 28 starts, a stretch that also includes six second-place finishes. She has won two U.S. Women’s Open titles, her first coming in 2008 when at 19 she became the youngest to win the national championship.
After Park was the only player among 68 to break par in the third round, she took a 4-shot lead into the final 18 holes. Kim knocked the deficit to three with a birdie at the second but gave it back at the fourth. Both made bogeys on consecutive holes starting at the sixth before a birdie by Park on the ninth stretch her lead to five. It got to six with another birdie on the 10th.
Kim never got closer than four the rest of the way on the 6,658-yard layout that featured baffling, contoured greens.
© 2013 USA TODAY. All rights reserved.