Healthy Park eyes annual awards, HOF credentials

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Inbee Park had a small cyst removed from the middle finger of her left hand in South Korea last week and says she is nearly completely healed and ready to compete this week at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Mexico City.

“It wasn’t a major injury, but being where it was, it made it a little bit hard to grip my club,” Park told GolfChannel.com Wednesday after Ochoa’s pro-am. “It was just getting bigger and bigger.”

Park, the Rolex world No. 2, says the nature of the cyst didn’t require surgery as it was near the surface of her skin.

“They just massaged it hard and popped it,” Park said.

It wasn’t a blister, she said.

“It was definitely a cyst,” Park said. “I couldn’t do it myself because it hurt too much. They numbed it, and they just popped it and it went away in a couple days.”

Park said she struggled with discomfort for about a month before deciding to withdraw after the first round of the Blue Bay LPGA in China almost two weeks ago. She returned to South Korea to have doctors examine her finger.

“I took about 8 days of rest without doing anything,” Park said. “I just started to practice a couple days ago.”

Park said the finger is healing so quickly that she won’t likely even have a bandage on it when she tees it up Thursday in the first round.

“I feel quite comfortable,” Park said.

There’s a lot at stake for Park over the next two weeks, including possibly qualifying for the LPGA Hall of Fame. While she has won four LPGA titles this year, two of them major championships, Park trails Lydia Ko in tight races for the tour’s most important season-long awards and honors. She’s second to Ko in Rolex Player of the Year points, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, money winnings and Race to the CME Globe points.

Park is two points shy of the 27 points required to qualify for the LPGA Hall of Fame. Winning Lorena Ochoa’s event would count as one point, so would winning next week’s CME Group Tour Championship. Park could also qualify without even winning an event. The Rolex Player of the Year Award is worth one point, so is the Vare Trophy.

Park needs to finish eighth or better at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational to remain in the hunt for the points-based Rolex Player of the Year Award. Ko withdrew from this week’s event to get some extra rest for next week’s season-ending CME Group Tour Championship. If Park doesn’t finish among the top eight in Mexico, Ko clinches the POY award.

After Wednesday’s Lorena Ochoa Invitational pro-am, Park reiterated what she said earlier this fall, that she achieved her top goal this year winning the Ricoh Women’s British Open for the first time, and she is trying not to press to claim these other prizes. Park said she thought she tried too hard in the final weeks last year, with Stacy Lewis going on to sweep the POY Award, Vare Trophy and money title.

“If I have a good two weeks, I could get them,” Park said. “If not, that’s too bad.

“Lydia is playing so well. The golf she’s been playing is unbeatable. I’ve played good golf, but she has just played better. I’m really happy with my season, and I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself now.”

Park has already claimed the Rolex Annika Major Award as the outstanding player in this year’s women’s majors. She won the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in June and Ricoh Women’s British in August for her sixth and seventh career major championship titles.