Park earns first LPGA title in ShopRite Classic

Annie Park of USC, who captured the 2013 NCAA individual title while leading the Trojans to the team championship and was the 2015 Symetra Tour Player of the Year, finally has arrived on the LPGA Tour.

The 23-year-old Park shot a bogey-free 8-under-par 63 in the final round to win the ShopRite LPGA Classic by one stroke over Sakura Yokomine of Japan on the Bay Course at Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club in Galloway Township, N.J.

“I can’t really describe it in words,” said an emotional Park, who was playing in only her fifth LPGA season because she did not have full playing status. “I’ve been through a lot of struggles.

“It was great to win in front of my family and friends because they have been so supportive since I started playing golf, and all the fans who came out today were just amazing.

“ … My putting was great and for a while it seemed that every putt I looked at went in.”

Park, who grew up nearby on Long Island, sank a 50-foot eagle putt on the ninth hole and added six birdies while finishing with a 54-hole score of 16-under 197. She earned $262,500 after making $261,096 in her previous 49 LPGA starts.

Yokomine, 32, who has won 32 times on the LPGA of Japan Tour but was seeking her first victory in the United States, posted a brilliant 61 that included an eagle on the ninth hole but came up short when she could managed only a par on the par-5 closing hole.

Marina Alex, a New Jersey native, made a hole in one on the 17th hole in a 64 to finish two strokes back in third, followed another stroke back by 36-hole leader Sei Young Kim of South Korea, who managed only a 70.

Sandra Gal of Germany closed with a 67 that included an eagle at No. 9 and was four down in a tie for fifth with Sue Oh of Australia, who had a 68, while Maria Stackhouse of Stanford also had a 68 to wind up one more behind in a tie for seventh with Wichanee Meechai (66) of Thailand and Ashleigh Buhai (66) of France.

Ally McDonald shot 66 and finished six back in a tie for 10th with In Gee Chun (66) of South Korea, Beatriz Recari (67) of Spain and Celine Herbin (71) of France.

Defending champion I.K. Kim of South Korea totaled 70 to tie for 17th.

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