Newsmaker of the Year No. 6: Inbee Park

By Randall MellDecember 19, 2013, 1:00 pm

Inbee Park wasn’t as impervious to pressure as we thought she was.

She wasn’t as unflappable in competition and as at peace chasing history as we all believed she was in her record-setting season.

She told us so when her remarkable run was over.

She confided in the end how she struggled with the attention and scrutiny that accompanied her growing success.

And that only made what she did in 2013 all the more impressive.

Park, 25, was a model of grace under pressure becoming the first woman to win the first three major championships of the year since Babe Zaharias in 1950. Mona Lisa’s smile betrays more angst to all the folks who study her hanging in the Louvre than Park’s face did this year. Winning six times overall, rising to Rolex world No. 1, winning the LPGA money title and becoming the first South Korean to win the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year, Park never betrayed the slightest vulnerability.

“You wouldn’t know whether she’s winning a tournament or whether she’s losing, and that’s what you need in a major,” Stacy Lewis said with Park in the midst of her hot run. “As a player, you’d like to know if she’s human, to see if she actually feels the nerves like the rest of us do.”

Park’s face may be the most impenetrably placid in the game, but she revealed at year’s end that there was a lot going on behind that wall of serenity.


 


“Many people say I look effortless when I play golf,” Park said in her acceptance speech as Rolex Player of the Year at year's end. “They also say I’m emotionless. Some even started calling me the `Silent Assassin.’ I think that’s a great nickname. It means I get my job done without making an unnecessary mess. However, just because I don’t show my feelings, doesn’t mean that I don’t feel anything.

“I went through the biggest waves of emotions on the tour this season.

“What I have gone through this year, what I have experienced, has been the most challenging task I’ve ever had to go through. The season seemed endless. Every tournament, every round, was a constant battle. I felt as if I was chased. There wasn’t a single moment this year where I felt completely relaxed. I felt as if I wasn’t left alone for one second.”

Park didn’t just handle the challenges between the ropes. She handled them outside. She signed autographs, granted interviews and made appearances without a hint that they may have inconvenienced her.

Little did we know . . .

“I just felt so uncomfortable standing in front of a crowd whose eyes were all on me,” Park said. “But now, I also realize, it is part of the job, so I want to feel as comfortable standing here as I do on the golf course.”

Park looks as comfortable over a putt as any player in the game. She didn’t dominate overpowering courses. She dominated with her flat stick. She dominated with the smoothest putting stroke in the game. She demoralized competition holing putt after putt after putt.

Park led the LPGA in putts per greens in regulation for the third time in her seven seasons on tour. Notably, she has no putting coach, never has. While her fiance, Gi Hyeob Nam, was instrumental in honing her swing, Park tends to her own putting stroke.

“Putting has been my instinct and my feeling,” Park says.

Nobody was better suited to deal with the confounding undulations at Sebonack, where Park won the U.S. Women’s Open for her third consecutive major.

At year's end, though, Park said her real secret this season wasn’t putting or ball striking. It was something internal.

“So to answer the media’s question: Who is the `Silent Assassin?’” Park said in her POY acceptance speech. “Well, I am someone who believes in finding happiness. My goal at the beginning of the year was simple: Let’s be happier than last year. At most, let’s win one more tournament.

“Don’t we all want to be happy? Aren’t we all doing whatever we do in order to be happy? Unexpectedly, as soon as happiness became my goal, I achieved more than ever.”


More Newsmakers in 2013:

Newsmaker of the Year, No 7: Rory McIlroy

Newsmaker of the Year, No 8: Henrik Stenson

Newsmaker of the Year, No 9: Jordan Spieth

Newsmaker of the Year, No. 10: Vijay Singh

Newsmaker of the Year: Honorable mentions

Fitzpatrick one back in 2018 Euro Tour opener

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 1:37 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia had six birdies and a bogey Thursday for a 5-under 65 and a one-stroke lead at the Hong Kong Open, the first event of the 2018 European Tour season.

Playing in sunny but breezy conditions at the Hong Kong Golf Club, the greens had the players struggling to gauge the approach.

''Very tough conditions today,'' Chawrasia said. ''It's very firm greens, to be honest. I'm just trying to hit the second shot on the green and trying to make it like a two-putt.''


Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open


Shubhankar Sharma and Matthew Fitzpatrick (both 66) were one shot behind, while seven others were tied for fourth a further stroke behind.

''Hit it great tee to green,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''I think I had like seven or eight chances inside 15 feet, and on a day like today when it's so windy and such a tough golf course, with how tight it is, yeah, it was a good day.''

Justin Rose, who won the title in 2015, shot was 2 under with five birdies and three bogeys.

''I think the course played a couple shots harder than it typically does,'' Rose said. ''I like this course. I think it offers plenty of birdie opportunities.''

Masters champion Sergio GarciaRafa Cabrera Bello and defending champion Sam Brazel (69) were in a group of 16 at 1 under.

Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

What it means: Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.