Park Wins First Pro Event At Toyota Danielle Downey Classic|
July 20, 2015
Courtesy of Symetra Tour
In just her fourth event as a professional golfer, Trojan three-time All-American Annie Park gutted out her first victory by the narrowest of margins in the final round of the Toyota Danielle Downey Classic at Brook-Lea Country Club on Sunday (July 19). She posted a 4-under 68 and survived a late rally from 2011 Solheim Cup member Vicky Hurst (Melbourne, Fla.) to win at 16-under 272, one stroke ahead of Hurst.
“I’m speechless, this is my first professional win and it has been happening all so fast,” said 20-year-old Park. “For me to win this tournament is crazy right now.”
Park becomes the second native New Yorker to win in the storied history of Rochester professional golf. Dottie Pepper (Saratoga) won the 1996 Rochester Invitational.
The former NCAA national champion (2013) was challenged early and late by Hurst, who made birdie on the second hole to cut the deficit to two shots. Composed beyond her years and experience, Park responded with birdies on the third, fourth and sixth holes to get to 15-under and a four shot lead.
At the turn, Park held a four shot lead. Hurst made up ground with an eagle on the 10th hole. Park made bogey on the 13th and all of a sudden the lead was back down to two shots. On the 15th hole, Hurst rolled in a birdie to cut the deficit to one shot. Park misjudged the wind on 17 and 18 and had to make two very difficult up-and-down pars to hold off Hurst.
“I knew Vicky is a phenomenal player and I knew she was going to play great today, she was putting so well,” said Park. “I miscalculated yardages on 16, 17 and 18, but for me to make that 7-foot par putt on 17 was shocking to me. I was like ‘yes, I made it’.”
With a one shot lead, Park left her tee shot on the par-3 18th hole short and it rolled down the classic Donald Ross designed front slope. She chipped up to a foot and tapped in for par. Hurst missed a 15-foot putt that would have forced a playoff.
“I don’t know how I converted that chip shot,” said Park with a wide smile. “I thought Vicky was going to make the putt so I was ready for a playoff, but I am just speechless.”
Park said that this round was one of the best of her life considering all the circumstances.
“Every shot was some of the shots of my life,” said the former USC Trojans golfer. “If I had to pick one shot, it was the par putt on 17, that was so nerve-racking.”
The first place payout vaults Park from 93rd on the Volvik Race for the Card money list to 17th with nine events remaining in the season.
Park is the third rookie to win on the Symetra Tour this season (Augusta James - Chico’s Patty Berg Memorial and Haruka Morita-WanyaoLu - Symetra Classic). Park is now third amongst rookies in earnings behind Morita-WanyaoLu and James, who are both inside the top 10.
Nancy Lopez, who was the honorary host of the event, addressed the packed crowd on the 18th green during the trophy ceremony. When Park spoke, she said that she wrote an autobiography on Lopez during her sophomore year of high school.
“Growing up, I looked up to Annika Sorenstam and Nancy Lopez,” said Park. “I did a lot of research on her and it was great to be able to meet her in person today.”
Hurst’s second place finish skyrockets her from 127th on the Volvik Race for the Card money list to 30th. Maude-Aimee Leblanc turned in a 4-under 68 on Sunday to finish in a tie for third at 8-under 280. She moves from 13th to eighth on the money list.