After a bogey on the first hole of the final round, Kum-Kang Park composed herself, finding four birdies the rest of the way at Country Club of Winter Haven, the last of which at the par-3 17th on Sunday sealed her Florida’s Natural Charity Classic victory.
The win and $30,000 winner’s check vault Park to No. 1 in the first edition of the 2022 Race for the Card standings.
“I’m happy that I can take the first step toward getting an LPGA Tour card by winning the first tournament of the season,” said Park, who hit 14 greens in regulation and finished at 9-under to win by two strokes. “It is a good start and will let me play more comfortable this year.”
Park captured her first Epson Tour title at the 2021 Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout. She never led in that event until her final putt dropped. This time around, she managed the pressure of holding the lead entering the final round. It was a new experience, but one she had a game plan for.
“I wasn’t thinking of winning because I knew the tournament was a marathon, not a sprint. I wanted to keep feeling good and do well for this event and beyond,” Park said. “I won with the lead for the first time. I thought I was nervous, but I was very strong while playing. I waited for my opportunity and did not get ahead of myself. I did not want to attack, but instead play defense and make no mistakes.”
Her playing partner Frida Kinhult (71) finished in a tie for second with Alana Uriell (67). The Swede found a bogey on No. 7 and followed it up with an eagle at No. 9. The momentum-killer for Kinhult was a double bogey on the par-3 12th.
"I started off with six pars in a row and then I had one par over the next seven holes. It was a little bit of everything out there,” said Kinhult, an Epson Tour winner at the 2020 Epson Tour Championship. “My boyfriend [Vincent Norrman] came for the last nine holes and I told him I'd rather make eagle, bogey, birdie, double than four pars in a row.
“This result is definitely a good boost. Obviously, wanted more but second place is never a bad thing."
Maria Torres carded a final-round 71 to finish solo fourth, while five players shared fifth. The round of the day came from Melbourne, Fla. native Daniela Iacobelli, who recorded seven birdies for a 6-under 66. Windermere native and University of Florida alumna Samantha Wagner shot three straight rounds of 73 to share 38th.