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Park cruises to Olympic Gold

INBEE Park has dominated the field to take Golf in the Women's Olympic golf competition in Rio.

FORMER World Number One Inbee Park has dominated the field to take out the Gold medal in the Women’s Olympic golf competition by five shots.

The seven time major winner fired a final round 66, a score bettered by only two players one the day, to reach 16-under-par.

Current World Number One Lydia Ko claimed the silver medal with a clutch 72nd hole birdie while China’s only major winner, Shanshan Feng, won bronze.

Australia’s Minjee Lee rallied to T7 at 8-under, two shots out of the bronze, while Su Oh signed for a 1-under 70 to be 5-under and T13.

Starting the day with a two shot lead Park put the Gold beyond doubt with four front nine birdies leaving the supporting cast to provide the interest in the battle for the minor medals.

WOMEN'S OLYMPIC GOLF FINAL ROUND HIGHLIGHTS:

Several had chances but faltered, most notably American Stacy Lewis who birdied 16 and 17 to get within a shot of the bronze before leaving a birdie putt agonisingly short at the last.

The day, though, belonged to Park, one of the game’s most dominant recent figures who holds the honour of being the youngest player ever to earn entry to the Hall of Fame.

The 28-year-old described winning the Gold medal as the highlight of her career, fueling speculation she is set to retire.

Park has been suffering a debilitating thumb injury for much of the season and rumours have been rife for several months she is ready to hang up the clubs and start a family.

While she wouldn’t be drawn on her immediate plans in the aftermath of the win it was clear the victory was a major achievement in her own mind.

“This really could be the highlight of my career,” she said. “I was lucky enough to have the opportunity.

“We have five major tournaments a year. I’ve won a lot of the major championships. “The Olympic Games you get to do it only once every four years and golf in 112 years. It’s a huge honour and I think it could be the highlight of my golfing career.”

Asked directly if she intended to call it a day Park was non-committal.

"There is no plan for retirement at the moment," she said. "I really haven’t planned for anything right now. Just going to go day by day."

While Park was basking in the glory of her victory both Ko and Feng were equally ecstatic to have taken their place on the podium in the first Women’s Olympic golf competition since 1900.

Ko has been a vocal cheerleader for golf’s return to the Games and has spoken all year about how proud she would be to claim a spot on the dais.

"My celebration was as if I won the gold," Ko beamed within minutes of finishing her round.

"I can't believe I'm going to hold a medal on the podium; it's what I've been dreaming about since 2009."

It was a clutch up and down at the par-5 18th that sealed it for the New Zealander who was less than her best for much of Saturday’s final round.

Making the turn even par after one birdie and one bogey, Ko was out of the medal reckoning through 13 holes but produced the good over the closing stages with three birdies in her final five holes.

Playing in the group ahead, Feng had missed an 11-foot putt for birdie to get to the clubhouse at 10-under and set the mark, Ko up to the task with a gutsy eight footer to avoid a playoff.

Australian Women’s Open champion Haru Nomura shared fourth with Stacy Lewis and Amy Yang on shot behind Feng.

Russian golfer Maria Verchenova grabbed her own slice of history in the final round with an ace at the par-3 4th on her way to a new course record 62.

The part time model and former ballerina made 10 birdies on top of the hole in one but dropped two shots on her way to the 9-under 62, bettering the previous mark of 8-under 63 set by Stacy Lewis in round two.

PLAYER PROFILE SU OH:

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