Park gets second chance at fourth major in 2013

By Randall MellSeptember 11, 2013, 1:40 pm

EVIAN-LES-BAINS, France – The LPGA’s new fifth major is Inbee Park’s second chance.

Park’s bid to become the first man or woman to win four professional major championships in a single season didn’t end with her failed try at the Ricoh Women’s British Open last month. Thanks to the Evian Championship’s upgrade to major status this year, Park will get another chance at winning her fourth this season.

With the Evian’s debut as a major this week, Park would relish adding to the history being made here. She arrives renewed and regenerated after falling short under the intense scrutiny that followed her to St. Andrews for the Women’s British Open.

“I don’t feel as much pressure this week as I did at the Women’s British Open,” Park, 25, said Wednesday, “I feel a lot more comfortable. I experienced something so big at St. Andrews, I just feel a lot more comfortable this week.”

Evian Championship: Articles, videos and photos

Park is feeling healthy, too, after withdrawing from the LPGA's last event, the Safeway Classic, with an intestinal inflammation.

“Four out of five majors would be an amazing thing to achieve,” Park said. “I would really love to win this week, not just because it would be four majors, but because this tournament is a really special week.”

Babe Zaharias (1950), Mickey Wright (1961) and Pat Bradley (1986) won three majors in a single season before Park won the Kraft Nabisco, the Wegmans LPGA Championship and the U.S. Women’s Open to start this year.

Ben Hogan (1953) and Tiger Woods (2000) also claimed three majors in a season.

Park’s already amid some select company, but she moves beyond them all fashioning the best major championship season in professional golf with a victory this week. She sets off to do so with the extra confidence that comes from being the defending champion at Evian.

A year ago, Park held off Stacy Lewis and Karrie Webb to win here by two shots. It was a different course then. Since Park won, the Evian Resort Golf Club has undergone an $8 million renovation. The course will play longer now, with completely different greens featuring more undulation.

Still, Park says Evian’s fond reminders go beyond specific course knowledge.

“This tournament gives me a lot of confidence,” Park said.

That’s because this is where Park broke out of her LPGA doldrums so spectacularly. This is where she got the spark of confidence that led to her sizzling run all the way to No. 1 in the world.

After becoming the youngest player to win the U.S. Women’s Open at 19 in 2008, Park was pegged as South Korea’s next rising star. It didn’t happen. In trying to live up to all the expectations that come with a major, she struggled and then slumped. Park recorded a top-10 the week after her U.S. Women’s Open title, but then went nearly 18 months without another top-10. She struggled through 22 consecutive events without a top-10.

Frustration mounted to the point that Park wasn’t enjoying the game.

“I wanted to give up and do something that wouldn’t give me as much stress,” Park said. “Golf was giving me so much stress. I was young then and felt if I weren’t playing golf, my life would be stress free. Back then, I just couldn’t handle that kind of stress.”

Evian is where Park finally ended her four-year winless run. It’s where she finally followed up her U.S. Women’s Open breakthrough with a second LPGA title. She went 81 events between those victories.

“I really thought that I wasn’t ever going to be able to win again,” Park said. “Winning Evian gave me the hope of winning again.”

It’s no coincidence Park’s game took off when her fiancé, Gi Hyeob Nam, took over as her swing coach last year. Her driving and iron play was erratic, but Nam helped her fix an early release. She was able to repeat her swing so much more consistently after that. He didn’t have to touch her putting. She has been one of the best putters in the game for a long time.

In the past 14 months, Park has won eight LPGA titles.

She also has won the admiration of her closest rivals.

“It’s been great for women’s golf, what Inbee has done this year,” said Lewis, the 2012 Rolex Player of the Year. “It’s good to see she’s finally getting the attention she deserves.”

Look through the LPGA stats this season, and Park is atop more categories than any other player. She’s leading the tour in victories (6), Rolex Player of the Year points (281), money winnings ($2,179,877) and putts per GIR (1.726). She’s second in scoring to Lewis.

Through her run, Park has learned to handle the stress she couldn’t handle earlier in her career.

“After winning Kraft this year, I began feeling some pressure, and it built and built,” Park said. “I feel like pressure is my friend now.”

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Watch: Tiger highlights from Round 2 at Honda

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 23, 2018, 8:12 pm

Tiger Woods started at even par in Round 2 of the Honda Classic. Friday began with a bogey at the par-4 second, but Woods got that stroke back with a birdie at the par-4 fourth:

Following four consecutive pars, Woods birdied the par-4 ninth to turn in 1-under 34.

At 1 under for the tournament, Woods was tied for 10th place, three off the lead, when he began the back nine at PGA National. And the crowd was loving it.

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Defending champ Fowler misses cut at Honda

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 23, 2018, 7:14 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – The roles might be reversed this weekend for Rickie Fowler.

Last year, when he won at PGA National, Fowler was greeted behind the 18th green by Justin Thomas, one of his Jupiter neighbors. Thomas had missed the cut in his hometown event but drove back to the tournament to congratulate Fowler on his fourth PGA Tour title.

It’s Fowler who will be on the sidelines this weekend, after missing the Honda Classic cut following rounds of 71-76.  

Full-field scores from the Honda Classic

Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos

“I haven’t been swinging it great the last month and a half,” he said afterward. “Obviously playing in the wind, it will pick you apart even more.”

After a tie for fourth at Kapalua, Fowler has missed two of his last three cuts. In between, at the Phoenix Open, he coughed up the 54-hole lead and tied for 11th.

Fowler said he’s been struggling with commitment and trust on the course.

“It’s close,” he said. “Just a little bit off, and the wind is going to make it look like you’re a terrible weekend golfer.”

Asked if he’d return the favor for Thomas, if he were to go and win, Fowler smiled and said: “Of course.”  

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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 23, 2018, 7:00 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

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Cut Line: Woods still eyeing Ryder Cup dual role

By Rex HoggardFebruary 23, 2018, 6:57 pm

In this week’s edition, Jack Nicklaus makes the argument, again, for an equipment rollback, Tiger Woods gets halfway to his Ryder Cup goal and Paul Lawrie laments slow play ... in Europe.

Made Cut

Captain’s corner. Last week Tiger Woods coyly figured he could do both, play and be a vice captain for this year’s U.S. Ryder Cup team. On Tuesday, he made it halfway to his goal.

U.S. captain Jim Furyk named Woods and Steve Stricker vice captains for this year’s matches, joining Davis Love III on the team golf cart.

Whether Woods will be able to pull off the double-header is now largely up to him and how his most recent comeback from injury progresses, but one way or another Furyk wanted Tiger in his team room.

“What Tiger really has brought to the table for our vice captains is a great knowledge of X's and O's,” Furyk said. “He's done a really good job of pairing players together in foursomes and fourball. When you look at our team room and you look at a lot of the youth that we have in that team room now with the younger players, a lot of them became golf professionals, fell in love with the game of golf because they wanted to emulate Tiger Woods.”

Woods is currently 104th on the U.S. points list, but the qualification process is designed for volatility, with this year’s majors worth twice as many points. With Tiger’s improved play it’s not out of the question that he gets both, a golf cart and a golf bag, for this year’s matches.

#MSDStrong. Every week on Tour players, officials and fans come together to support a charity of some sort, but this week’s Honda Classic has a more personal impact for Nicholas Thompson.

Thompson graduated from nearby Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and last week’s horrific shooting there inspired the former Tour member to work with tournament organizers and find a way to help the victims.

Officials handed out 1,600 maroon ribbons to volunteers to honor the victims; and Thompson and his wife, who is also a Stoneman Douglas graduate, donated another 500 with the letters “MSD” on them for players, wives and caddies.

Thompson also planned to donate 3,100 rubber bracelets in exchange for donations to help the victims and their families.

“I’m not much of a crier, but it was a very, very sad moment,” Thompson told “To see on TV, the pictures of the school that I went through for four years and the area where it occurred was terrible.”

The Tour makes an impact on communities every week, but some tournaments are more emotional than others.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Golden moment. Jack Nicklaus has never been shy about expressing his thoughts on modern equipment and how far today’s professionals are hitting the golf ball, but this week the Golden Bear revealed just how involved he may be in what is increasingly looking like an equipment rollback of some sort.

During a recent dinner with USGA CEO Mike Davis, Nicklaus discussed the distance debate.

“Mike said, ‘We’re getting there. We’re going to get there. I need your help when we get there.'” Nicklaus said. “I said, ‘That’s fine. I’m happy to help you. I’ve only been yelling at you for 40 years.’ 1977 is the first time I went to the USGA.”

The USGA and R&A are scheduled to release their annual distance report before the end of the month, but after the average driving distance jumped nearly 3 yards last year on Tour – and nearly 7 yards on the Tour – many within the equipment industry are already bracing for what could be the most profound rollback in decades.

Stay tuned.

Geographically undesirable. Although this will likely be the final year the Tour’s Florida swing is undercut by the WGC-Mexico Championship, which will be played next week, the event’s impact on this year’s fields is clear.

The tee sheet for this week’s Honda Classic, which had become one of the circuit’s deepest stops thanks to an influx of Europeans gearing up for the Masters, includes just three players from the top 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking, and none from top three. By comparison, only the Sony Open and CareerBuilder Challenge had fewer top players in 2018.

On Monday at a mandatory meeting, players were given a rough outline of the 2018-19 schedule, which features some dramatic changes including the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players shifting back to March, and numerous sources say the Mexico stop will move to the back end of the West Coast swing and be played after the Genesis Open.

That should help fields in the Sunshine State regain some luster, but it does nothing to change the fact that this year’s Florida swing is, well, flat.

Missed Cut

West Coast woes. Of all the highlights from this year’s West Coast swing, a run that included overtime victories for Patton Kizzire (Sony Open), Jon Rahm (CareerBuilder Challenge), Jason Day (Farmers Insurance Open) and Gary Woodland (Waste Management Phoenix Open), it will be what regularly didn’t happen that Cut Line remembers.

J.B. Holmes endured the wrath of social media for taking an eternity - it was actually 4 minutes, 10 seconds - to hit his second shot on the 72nd hole at Torrey Pines, but in fairness to Holmes he’s only a small part of a larger problem.

Without any weather delays, Rounds 1 and 2 were not completed on schedule last week in Los Angeles because of pace of play, and the Tour is even considering a reduction in field size at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open to avoid similar schedule issues.

But all this seems to miss the point. Smaller fields aren’t the answer; rules that recognize and penalize slow play are the only solution.

Tweet of the week: @PaulLawriegolf (Paul Lawrie) “Getting pretty fed up playing with guys who cheat the system by playing as slow as they want until referee comes then hit it on the run to make sure they don't get penalized. As soon as ref [is] gone it’s back to taking forever again. We need a better system.”

It turns out slow play isn’t a uniquely Tour/West Coast issue, as evidenced by the Scot’s tweet on Thursday from the Qatar Masters.