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.

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“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.

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.