Inbee Park’s historic win at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Westchester Country Club was stellar in many ways.
She won by five strokes over Sei Young Kim while holding off a serious last-round charge by Lexi Thompson, who climbed the leaderboard with eight early birdies.
Park’s four sub-par rounds totaled 273, a full 19 strokes under the tournament par of 292. That’s been done by only five other players of either sex in major championships—and one of them is Tiger Woods.
This was the third year in a row Inbee Park won the PGA Women’s Championship (formerly the LPGA Championship). The only other player to accomplish that three-peat is Annika Sorenstam, who took the title in 2003, 2004, and 2005.
While there is plenty of say about Park’s triumph, there are also six excellent lessons to be learned by every golfer from the way she won.
Let the club do the work. Park’s swing looks almost leisurely as she draws the club back with almost exaggerated slowness. From the top of her swing, it looks like the club just falls toward the ball under its own weight. Her grip pressure is super light (watch her left hand), but the center of the club face invariably finds the ball and there’s a distinct “swoosh” through the contact zone. And she swings that way every time.
Putt like a metronome. If you want to make a lot of putts like Inbee Park, stroke the ball the way she does, with a smooth motion that takes the putter back the same distance it goes forward—and at the same rhythmic pace. Her average putts per round this tournament? 29.5!
Keep your emotions in check. Even when she putted off the 12th green in the final round, Park kept her cool. She pitched the ball back up to a foot, then sank the par putt. She may have been seething inside, but outwardly her demeanor didn’t change—nor did the pace of her swing. Over the last 56 holes she played, by the way, Park had exactly zero bogies.
Play the course—don’t fight it. The championship was played on a course the contestants had never seen and it was unlike most of the ones they play every week. Westchester Country Club’s west course requires not just good swings but smart ones, too. Park actually visited the club to play several practice rounds a month before the tournament. When the competition came around, she knew where to take chances, where to lay back, which holes she could dominate, and which ones to fear.
Keep your game plan even if you are protecting a lead. Park held a four-stroke lead going into the 12th hole Sunday, but she still went for the green in two anyway. At 15, her lead was still four, but she went for that par five in two as well. On eighteen, with no question she would hold the trophy, she took dead aim on her third shot, pitching to within five feet and drilling the birdie putt home with authority.
If there were any doubters out there, these women put them in their place. Inbee Park and the rest of the field taught many spectators an important lesson—the LPGA is great sport. They took on a long, difficult golf course and proved their games can handle it. Thirty-two players finished under par—six of them in double digits. They drove the ball a long way, tearing apart the par fives in the process. Their putting nerves handled the slick, contoured greens at Westchester Country Club, too—and there’s no question the LPGA gained a lot of fans at the first KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.