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August 21, 2017

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Choi wins US Women's Open by four shots

KOHLER, Wisconsin -- South Korea's Choi Na-yeon survived a tumultuous four-hole stretch after the turn to win her first major title by four shots at the U.S. Women's Open in Kohler, Wisconsin on Sunday.

A commanding six strokes ahead of the chasing pack overnight, Choi triple-bogeyed the 10th and did well to salvage pars at the 12th and 13th before regaining momentum to close with a one-over-par 73 at Blackwolf Run.

The 24-year-old birdied the 15th and 16th in dazzling sunshine and shrugged off a bogey at the last for a seven-under total of 281, finishing four ahead of her fellow Korean and playing partner Amy Yang (71).

World number five Choi embraced her caddie in delight before being showered in champagne by her compatriots after becoming the sixth Korean to win the U.S. Women's Open, and the fifth in the last eight years.

After being presented with the champion's medal and the glittering U.S. Women's Open trophy, Choi was asked greenside how she had recovered from her triple-bogey at the 10th.

"I tried to forget it from there," she replied with a smile. "And then I had a really good (birdie) bounceback on 11.

"I also had a really good save for par on 12 so I got some momentum from 11 and 12 and that's how I kept it going until the 18th hole."

With her U.S. Women's Open triumph, Choi emulated fellow Koreans Pak Se-ri (at Blackwolf Run in 1998), Birdie Kim (2005), Park In-bee (2008), Ji Eun-hee (2009) and Ryu So-yeon (2011).

"Actually before Se-ri won in 1998, my dream was just being a professional golfer," said Choi, who is projected to climb to second in the world rankings on Monday.

"But after I watched her (win), she really inspired me to be a LPGA player. So I really appreciate what Seri did before and she is a legend in Korea."

Five-times major champion Pak, whose victory here 14 years ago sparked the Korean surge at the highest level in women's golf, led the charge on to the 18th green to congratulate Choi with champagne bottle in hand.

"She said, 'Hey, Na-yeon, I'm really proud of you. You did a really good job.' She talked to me a lot, and she was hugging me," Choi said.

"And 14 years later I'm here right now, and I made it. My dreams have come true. It's an amazing day."

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