Park overcomes her own doubts

By Randall MellJuly 1, 2013, 1:24 am

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – Inbee Park isn’t quite as unflappable as we all think.

Beneath that wonderfully cool countenance, there really is mortal vulnerability.

In fact, on the eve of the final round of the U.S. Women’s Open, Park was tossing and turning on the 54-hole lead in the four-bedroom house she was renting with her parents in the Hamptons. It was about 11 p.m., and the weight of all the history awaiting her Sunday at Sebonack Golf Club was finally coming down hard.

Unable to sleep, Park opened the door of her bedroom and waved for her mother to come inside for a talk. Park confessed she was feeling nervous trying to become the first player since Babe Zaharias in 1950 to win the first three majors in a season. She confessed that she was worried about letting down friends and fellow South Koreans. She confessed she was worried about disappointing her family.

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Photos: Inbee Park through the years

“Mom?” Park asked Sung Kim, her mother. “Do you think I can really do this?”

Sung Kim is telling this story early Sunday evening behind the 18th green. She is beaming with joy and pride because her daughter is holding the answer in her hands. Inbee is down on the green hoisting the Harton S. Semple trophy over her head as the 68th U.S. Women’s Open champion. Inbee is beaming, too, with dozens of South Koreans who live in the New York area wildly chanting while waving their homeland’s national colors.

“I will not forget this moment,” Sung Kim says through a friend who is translating. “I am so honored to be here. I am so proud of her.”

So was Gun Gyu, Inbee’s father, as he mingled amid the jubilance with the Great Peconic Bay as the backdrop.

“I just hope this is not a dream,” Park said afterward with her trophy sparkling before her. “I don’t want to wake up tomorrow and have to play the final round again.”

Park, 24, moved into special company becoming the first woman in six decades to start the season with a trifecta of major titles. She made history joining Zaharias, Mickey Wright (1961) and Pat Bradley (1986) as the only women to win three majors in a season. She is threatening to make more history now with the possibility she could become the first man or woman to win the modern Grand Slam, a sweep of all the majors in a single season.

Through four rounds, Park seemed delightfully oblivious to all the hype in her march to history, but that was never true. She knew what was at stake. While she never betrayed the least bit of angst between the ropes, never betrayed nerves or doubt, she harbored them.

On Saturday night, she shared them with her mother.

“Mom, if something happens tomorrow . . . don’t expect too much,” Inbee said.

Sung Kim said she reassured her daughter. She shared feelings she hoped would help Inbee.

“It’s OK,” Sung Kim told her. “Don’t worry. If you win, it’s OK. If you lose, it’s OK. We are just so happy either way.”

Park made an entire nation proud closing out the victory with a 2-over-par 74 on another difficult setup at Sebonack. Even with four bogeys over two birdies, Park was never really threatened. She started the day with a four-shot lead over I.K. Kim (74), and that’s how the day ended.

At 8-under 280, Park won her sixth LPGA title this season, her third in a row, and her second U.S. Women’s Open title.

The victory pads Park’s lead as No. 1 in the Rolex world rankings and fuels a buzz over the women’s return to St. Andrews, the home of golf, for the Ricoh Women’s British Open in the first week of Augusta.

It didn’t take long for Park to be asked about the next leg in her quest to win the Grand Slam. Given the LPGA added the Evian Masters as its fifth major this year, there promises to be some debate about whether she has to win four or five in a row to claim a Grand Slam.

“It’s too early to think about the next one,” Park said. “I really want to enjoy the moment.

“I’m just glad I can give it a try at St. Andrews. That’s going to be a great experience, whether I do it or not, I’m just a lucky person.”

With all the history she’s making, Park was never really comfortable talking about it all week. She said Friday that she was trying her best not to think about it because of the pressure it created.

Her caddie, Brad Beecher, said they didn’t talk about it all week, not until the end was within sight.

“We didn’t talk about it at all, until walking after hitting that third shot [at the 18th hole],” Beecher said. “I just said, `Inbee, you are about to join history. Enjoy this walk.’ I enjoyed it, too. It was pretty darn special.”

Beecher has toted Park’s bag for six years. He has watched her star ascend again after all the struggles that ensued after her first U.S. Women’s Open title in 2008, back when she was just 19, the youngest winner of the championship. She didn’t win another LPGA title for four years after that.

“I don’t think she could even put words to this, what she’s accomplished,” Beecher said. “I can’t even put words to it.”

It’s a story with more chapters promising to be written, more history.

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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

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Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.