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Lewis Sweeps to Victory in Women's British Open
Stacy Lewis came through in the clutch Sunday. The 28-year-old birdied the final two holes on the Old Course at St. Andrews to win the Women's British Open by two strokes.
On a marathon day at the "Home of Golf" caused by high winds that canceled Saturday's third round, Lewis performed the best in continued blustery conditions. The Ohio native and former All-American at Arkansas completed a 3-under 69 in the morning's third round and closed with an even-par 72 to finish at 8-under 280, two strokes ahead of a pair of South Koreans, Hee Young Park and Na Yeon Choi.
"It's unbelievable," Lewis said. "It all happened so fast at the end. You're afraid for every shot, and all of a sudden you make a couple of birdies and it's over."
Choi, who led after 36 holes, needed birdies on the last two holes to tie Lewis in regulation, but she bogeyed the 17th and parred the last to fall into second.
Lewis, the No. 2-ranked player in women's golf behind Inbee Park (no relation to Hee Young), hit her approach on the 17th to 3 feet for an easy birdie to tie Choi for the lead. "That might be one of the best of my career," Lewis said of her 5-iron on the famed "Road Hole."
"I was trying to hit it 160 yards in the air. It worked out perfectly."
Lewis ensured victory on the last when she drove 40 yards short of the 18th green. She putted 25 feet past the hole, but made the come-backer to nail down her third title of the year and second career major; she also won the 2011 Kraft Nabisco Championship.
Sharing fourth at 283 were Norway's Suzann Pettersen, who closed with rounds of 72 and 74, and Morgan Pressel. Pressel enjoyed a one-stroke lead heading into the final 18 holes following a 71 in the morning. But the 25-year-old Floridian couldn't keep pace in the afternoon, closing with a 4-over 76.
Two Japanese players - Mamiko Higa and Miki Saiki - tied for seventh at 286, while sharing ninth were a couple of Yanks, Natalie Gulbis and Nicole Castrale.
Two Swedes - Anna Nordqvist and Pernilla Lindberg - tied for 11th at 288 along with American Paula Creamer, Scotland's Catriona Matthew and South Korean Meena Lee.
American Cristie Kerr shot the low final round, a 3-under 69 to take solo 16th at 289.
The big story entering the Women's British Open involved Inbee Park making golf history by becoming the first player - male or female - to ever win four professional majors in the same season. Though she won't win four majors in a row, she can still win a quartet of major titles in 2013 at the LPGA Tour's fifth major, the Evian Masters in France in mid-September.
The 25-year-old from Seoul, who was 1-under on her third round through four holes before play was halted Saturday, ended up recording a 2-over 74 and then posted a 78 in the final round - which began with a four-putt double-bogey - to finish in a tie for 42nd at 6-over 294.
She never did figure out the ancient putting surfaces at the Old Course. "These greens were tough to judge," she said. "One minute they were quick, one minute they were slow."
Still, Park was upbeat Sunday evening. "I've done something amazing this season," she said of her matching the mark set in 1950 by Babe Didrikson Zaharias of winning three straight majors to start the season. "I won three straight majors. I don't know if I can do that again."
She was also relieved that the media circus and buildup in advance of the Women's British Open is now in the past. "I'm glad this tournament is over," said Park, who's returning to her home in South Korea for some rest. "I've gone through four rounds under pressure and that's something I've never experienced."
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