Park earns the trophy she wanted most

By Randall MellAugust 2, 2015, 8:14 pm

TURNBERRY, Scotland – Inbee Park closed with a vengeance Sunday to win the Ricoh Women’s British Open. 

While revenge doesn’t seem like Park’s style, there was some of that fueling the fierce way she finished at Trump Turnberry.

Park wasn’t out there trying to obliterate the opposition as much as she was trying to obliterate the memory of last year’s loss at Royal Birkdale. She took a one-shot lead into the final round of last year’s Women’s British Open and even built on the lead before ultimately collapsing in the heavy winds on the back nine.

“The most disappointing tournament I’ve had,” Park said. “On the front nine, I was leading by two. I only needed to shoot like 2 or 3 over on the back nine to win, and I couldn’t even do that. I was disappointed, because it was something I really wanted. 

Park was left with such a deep ache because the Women’s British Open was the major championship she coveted most, and yet the one she believed was the most difficult to win. She shot 77 in the final round at Royal Birkdale. She also endured disappointment at St. Andrews two years ago. That’s where she went looking to win the fourth leg of the calendar year Grand Slam only to see her bid to sweep all the majors in a single season end.

Ricoh Women’s British Open: Articles, photos and videos

“I’ve set one goal this year, one and only one, and that’s winning the British Open,” Park said with a hand on the Women’s British Open trophy in the media center at Turnberry. “And being the only goal I’ve set, it feels great.”

Blitzing Turnberry on a ferocious run in the middle of the final round, playing 10 holes in 7 under, Park closed with a 7-under-par 65, coming from three shots behind Jin-Young Ko (71) to win by three.

Park’s dominance in the majors is becoming epic. She has won six of the last 14 majors played. If she wins Evian next month, she will join Mickey Wright as the only women to win seven majors in a three-year span.

Sunday’s victory was also historic because it makes Park just the seventh player to win four different majors in her career. She has now won three Women’s PGA Championships, two U.S. Women’s Opens, one ANA Inspiration and one Women’s British Open.

The LPGA is calling her feat a career Grand Slam, but the tour’s elevation of the Evian Championship to major status in 2013 complicates the designation. Golf Channel, based on its research department’s examination of the origins of how the “Grand Slam” concept was first applied to golf, is recognizing only a “sweep” of existing majors as a “Grand Slam.” The Associated Press also isn’t calling Park’s feat a career Grand Slam.

Park has won four of the five currently designated majors in women’s golf. Though she has won the Evian Championship, she won it in 2012.

“I won that the year before it became a major but I'm still an Evian Championship champion, and my name is still on that trophy,” Park said. “I feel like I've won all the majors in women's golf.”

Park, 27, now owns seven women’s major championships, equaling Juli Inkster and Karrie Webb in seventh place on the all-time list. Only the real legends of the game own more majors. Only Patty Berg (15), Mickey Wright (13), Louise Suggs (11), Babe Zaharias (10), Annika Sorenstam (10) and Betsy Rawls (8) have won more.

Park says winning the Women’s British Open felt like the most daunting task in her major quest. She says it was especially meaningful winning it in Scotland.

“Scotland is obviously the birthplace of golf,” Park said. “It feels like this is where they started golf and this feels like real golf. So, I definitely wanted to put my name on a British Open trophy because it just means so much, the golf course, the place. Everything just has so much history. This is definitely the golfer's most wanted trophy.

“It’s just much more special. Every time I come to the British Open, everything seems so hard, the wind, the rain, the tee times. There's so much that I had to overcome in the Women's British Open. It always felt so hard.”

Brad Beecher, Park’s long-time caddie, knows how satisfying Sunday’s triumph was. He was there in the loss at Royal Birkdale. He was there at St. Andrews two years ago. He was on Park’s bag in the four top-10 finishes she endured trying to win over the five-year span coming into this year.

“I remember losing last year,” Beecher said. “And afterward Inbee questioning, questioning, questioning: `What did I do wrong? What could I have done better?’ It was devastating.”

Park was at her best closing with a 65 at Turnberry. She hit just eight fairways in Sunday’s winds, but she hit 13 greens in regulation. Her famous putting, sometimes a frustration to her this year, was terrific. She took just 24 putts.

When Park’s at her best, her putter is the most feared club in women’s golf. She wielded it like a bludgeon winning those first three majors in 2013.

“It reminded me of a couple years ago when it was red hot,” Beecher said. “She just set up over the ball, and it felt like it was going to go in.”

Park used her best weapon to slay the memory of her worst losses in golf.

Getty Images

Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

Getty Images

Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

Getty Images

DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

Getty Images

LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.