Hitting the wall. These are the first words that spring forth in my mind as I recall the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia; the action seemingly following a pre-established plan that appeared as logical as can be, before tumbling over in a final round twist. The blueprint was simple: take the defending champion – resurgent South Korean Na Yeon Choi – add her fellow countrywoman who can do no wrong having finished on the podium six straight times – Inbee Park – to the mix and let the former run ahead as the latter assumes her role of paramount chaser. A mid-round burst and an unplayable lie, nevertheless, would net World No.5 Inbee Park her second victory on Tour this year.
Choi’s title defense begun like any golfer would envision it to, namely with a blemish-free round that still provided enough aggression to distance one’s self from the pack early. Despite the fact that the current World No.3’s four front-nine alone would have been enough to lodge her within the top-6, the always dangerous on the Oriental belt Karrie Webb was able to match her stride for stride late en route to a Thursday 65. Usually, this could have meant added pressure heading into the weekend, but the only one that seemed to climb was the barometric one as Choi used Webb’s proximity only seemed to spark the South Korean on Day 2.
Moving day was more of the same for Choi as a third-straight sub-70 round took her to 13-under, but more importantly, within arms reach of a second-straight Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia. The kicker, though, was Park’s sudden push – a six-birdie scorcher that started on the 12th hole – after lurking around a few strokes back during the two previous rounds.
On Sunday, Choi seemed poised early on as her adversary strong debut – Park shaving off strokes on 2nd and 3rd – left her unfazed; the 2011 champion even answering with a pair of birdies of her own. The turn, however, made sure to earn its namesake; Choi’s blunder on 9th followed by Park’s highlights on 10th and 11th. From that point, with the tide shifting, one could picture the outcome rather easily. The final nail was struck when Choi’s tee shot on 17th not only found the front greenside bunker, but also dug itself right against the lip, leaving the South Korean no choice but to take an unplayable lie. Instead of two triumphs at the Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club for Choi, it was two victories in six tournaments for Inbee Park.