Park wins Australian Open, boosting Olympic hopes


(Reuters) – South Korean Park In-bee boosted her chances of being eligible to defend her Olympic title when she notched a three-shot victory at the Women’s Australian Open on Sunday.

After starting the final round with a three-shot cushion, Park remained clear despite not exactly setting Royal Adelaide on fire in shooting one-over-par 74.

She finished at 14-under 278, while American Amy Olson carded 70 to claim second place on 11-under.

In recording her 20th victory on the LPGA Tour, Park also picked up a healthy dose of valuable world ranking points.

So dominant are South Korea’s women golfers that making the nation’s team for Tokyo 2020 is one of the toughest Olympic challenges in any sport.

Only four players from any nation are allowed, and Park went into the Australian Open ranked the sixth South Korean, with Ko Jin-young, Park Sung-hyun, Kim Sei-young, Lee Jeong-eun6 and Kim Hyo-joo ranked ahead.

The Olympic women’s tournament will be held at Kasumigaseki Country Club outside Tokyo from July 30-Aug. 2.

The venue is a controversial choice. Women were not granted full membership of the club until 2018, and the course is located in one of the hottest places in all of Japan in mid-summer.

Park clinched the Olympic gold medal by five strokes in Rio four years ago.

Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; editing by Richard Pullin