|Park Min-ji hits a tee shot on the fourth hole during the final round of the 2019 Bogner MBN Women's Open at the Star Hue Golf & Resort in Yangpyeong, Gyeonggi Province, Sunday. Park won the 19th KLPGA tournament of the year in Korea. /Yonhap|
By Kim Jeong-kyoo
Park Min-ji pulled off an arduous victory at the 2019 Bogner MBN Ladies Open Sunday, holding off her rivals' dogged challenge for the crown.
The 20-year-old carded a two-under 69 for a three-round total of 14-under 199 at the 6,629-yard par-71 Star Hue Golf & Resort in Yangpyeong, Gyeonggi Province.
The winner struggled with her game in the front nine, hitting a one-over 36 with a lone birdie against two bogeys. However, she hit a bogey-free three-under 33 to be the last player standing.
She put up a gripping brawl for her first triumph of the season and third career KLPGA Tour title, receiving 120 million won in prize money.
Starting the penultimate day, Park led the field by two strokes over four rivals: Park Ju-young, In Ju-yeon, Jang Ha-na and Kim Char-young2 at 10-under. A batch of roughly 10 contestants chased her within five shots, which portended a fierce free-for-all.
On Saturday, Park fired a bogey-free 8-under 63 in the rain-delayed second round. She'd taken advantage of her good fortune getting to play in the afternoon. In the morning, a sudden, unrelenting downpour of rain had saturated the golf course, flooding the greens. Heavy rain bombarded contestants who'd played in the morning. As she'd started in the afternoon, however, the wet, soft greens helped her enjoy a great round, which served as a springboard for her victory. She looked nearly invincible during Saturday's second round.
Park incurred her first bogey on No. 4, where she made a nasty chip shot too short off the green, failing to get up and down. With the bogey, she dropped down to share the lead with Jang Ha-na, who birdied the 4th.
Park rattled off a great birdie on No. 5 to get her sole lead back. However, after a train of four pars, she incurred a three-putt bogey on No. 8 to share the lead with Jang and Kim Char-young2.
When she birdied the 11th, Park found herself trailing behind the leader by a stroke. But she shared the lead with three others when Kim bogeyed the 12th.
Park hit a great approach on the 13th before reeling in her third birdie of the day to share the lead once again with Kim.
On the 16th, she collected her fourth birdie of the day, shaking off Kim, Jang and Lee Da-yeon to become the sole leader with two holes to play.
Park hit her approach into the greenside bunker on No. 17, finding herself in crisis. But she calmly got up and down for par with a smooth putting stroke to preserve her one-shot lead. It was a tricky putt from a not-so-close range.
Whacking a successful tee shot at the par-5 18th, she strolled down the fairway under an umbrella. She hit her perfect third shot near the hole, setting up a good chance for a birdie. And with a comfortable two-putt par, she eventually edged out her three closest rivals by a single stroke.
On her first victory of the season, she shared her emotional state of mind: "I'm thankful that I've achieved my target of winning a tournament a year. I'm pleased with the unexpected triumph."
"I felt great pressure from Kim Char-yojng2 in the back nine, but went all out to focus on my shots. Also, I tried to play aggressively to fight off her and other rivals. I am grateful to my family for being so good to me."
Kim Char-young2 and Jang Ha-na hit a 3-under each while Lee Da-yeon fired a bogey-free 7-under, settling for sharing second place. Kim took the sole lead twice during the play, but her chance to win passed her by with the bogey on No. 12. Jang shared the lead a couple of times but ended the day a stroke shy. Lee also finished a stroke back.