By Phillip Howley
Edina, Minn. Ė Inbee Park won the U.S. Womenís Open on Sunday, did so with an admirable score of 2-under-par 71, finished it off in style with a birdie on No. 18.
As M.C. Hammer might say, you canít touch that.
The question isnít about Park, the question is about nearly everybody else. And the question is Ė where were they?
By the time Park drained her birdie on No. 18 at Interlachen Country Club, when she finally took a moment to look over her shoulder, there wasnít a player in sight, at least none any closer than four strokes.
The story that unfolded on a bright, windy day in suburban Minneapolis was partly about Park beating the tough conditions at Interlachen, and partly about the beating the course put on some of the best players in the world.
|Stacy Lewis watches her putt on the third hole during the fourth round of the 2008 U.S. Women's Open at Interlachen Country Club in Edina, Minn. on Sunday, June 29, 2008. (Copyright USGA/John Mummert)
Remember all that concern about soft conditions and red numbers at a USGA national? Relax. Par is still welcome at Golf House.
Only eight cards were under par on Sunday. Oddly enough, the only one in the 60s belonged to amateur Jessica Korda, who finished with a 69. Among those who were in the hunt when the day began, those who had a great notion after 54 holes, Park was the only par-breaker.
Remember Stacy Lewis, wonderful story, has overcome scoliosis, made everything she looked at on Saturday. She required 12 more putts to get around on Sunday and faded to black with a 78.
"The wind was hard out there," said Lewis, 23, who finished in a tie for third at 4-under par. "It was swirling every hole. You couldnít get a general direction of the wind at all. It was hard to trust the clubs that you had, if you even had the right club."
To paraphrase: it was hard.
Maybe you recall Paul Creamer. The "Pink Panther" was just a stroke out of the lead coming into the final round. She had played solid all week, posting three consecutive scores under par. She was brimming with confidence, playing in the final pairing with Lewis, poised to put a first major championship on an already-impressive resume.
Interlachen was having none of it. It slapped two double bogeys on Creamerís front nine and also sent her reeling to a 78, six strokes in Parkís rearview mirror.
"Itís probably the most disappointed Iíve been in a long time," said Creamer, who has six LPGA wins at the age of 21. "A lot of things were hard out there. It was a tough day, especially when you have such a great gallery out there cheering you on the whole time. Thatís the hardest part."
Did we mention it was hard?
Even those who braved the stiff breezes and wrestled Interlachen to a standstill came away with renewed respect. Remember Angela Park? She had jumped to the head of the class with a second-round 67, one of the top rounds of the championship.
Angela Park managed a par-73 on Sunday, which actually moved her up the board into a tie for third at four under. Given the circumstances, Angela Park was happy to get out alive. "I thought the course played much harder today because of the wind, and especially on putts," said Angela Park. "And when youíre nervous, youíre shaking a little and with the wind, youíre shaking even more.
"So yeah, the wind made a big, big difference. Sometimes it would be two clubs, but then you would wait for the gusts not to blow and it would be one club."
In the end, 19-year old Angela Park was happy for her friend Inbee Park.
"Like I have said so many times, youíve got be patient out there, especially at a U.S. Open," Angela Park said. "I think thatís what Inbee was able to do.
"If was to pick someone (to win this week) I would have picked her. She played well (in the Womenís Open) last year, sheís been playing well, sheís been in contention various weeks. So sheís been playing great and I think she really deserves this win. Iím really happy for her."
To reiterate, it was hard. But for some, it also was happy.
Phillip Howley is a freelance writer whose work has appeared previously on www.uswomensopen.com.