Inbee Park will tee it up without the Rolex world No. 1 ranking for the first time in more than a year when play begins Thursday at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.
She isn’t reeling with disappointment.
“I'm the No. 2 right now, and my life didn't change,” Park said in her pre-tournament news conference Wednesday at the Grey Silo Golf Course. “I'm just still doing the same thing, doing my routine, practice round, pro-am, playing again. Yeah, it's just numbers, but my life is the same life.”
Park, though, concedes she does have an extra dose of motivation after seeing her 59-week reign at No. 1 end.
“I think I needed some kind of a motivation again, because I really haven't won since last summer,” Park said. “I definitely need to step it up and try to win some more tournaments, definitely. Otherwise, it was just a matter of time that [the No. 1 ranking] was going to change. Hopefully, I'll be back there again.”
Park is looking for her first LPGA title since winning the U.S. Women’s Open last year, though she did win the World Ladies Championship in March on the Ladies European Tour.
Two weeks ago, Park missed her first cut in a year, failing to make the weekend at the Airbus LPGA Classic in Alabama. Last week, she rebounded, tying for eighth at the ShopRite Classic.
“That Alabama tournament was a little bit weird, because I was feeling so good, and I was hitting the ball good, putting so well in the two weeks off on a break [before Airbus], and I got to the tournament and nothing seemed to be working again. So, I lost my confidence there, totally, and then came to Atlantic City with no confidence and tried to work on things that didn't work that last week.
“Last week wasn't perfect, but it was much better than the week before, obviously. My game's not where I want it to be, but I feel like it's coming around. Last week was a little bit better ball striking. First day, I felt I putted really good, and then the second and third day, it was really frustrating putting days. Putting has been my main issue this year.”
It’s a testament to Park’s skills that even though she isn’t happy with her putting this year, she still ranks No. 1 on tour in putting average (28.95 putts per round). Park has finished first in putts per greens in regulation or putting average in four of the last six seasons.