Park reveals pressure of Olympic experience

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PHOENIX – Inbee Park revealed the secret to her Olympic gold medal victory last summer in Rio de Janeiro.

“I’ve never been so desperate for a good result in my whole career,” Park said Wednesday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Park said the pressure she was under in South Korea made her desperate. With Park leaving the LPGA for two months leading into the Olympics because of a thumb injury, there was pressure on her to give up her spot on the South Korean team to a healthy player. She was heavily criticized.

“I've never worked that hard in my whole life, my whole career,” Park said of her preparation for the Olympics. “The couple months I had before the Olympics I seriously thought I can be tired of golf after these two months. That's how hard I worked.”

Park said the victory was a “mental” triumph, playing through the injury and through all the doubts. She said her husband and coach, Gi Hyeob Nam, was instrumental to her success. She said he made her “brave” when she needed that feeling.

“I think it’s always good to have somebody on your side when nobody is on your side,” Park said. “Deep in my mind, I had a thought that maybe I should (withdraw), because I don’t want to be embarrassed with bad golf.”

Park, 28, is off to a remarkable return to the tour after taking nearly six months to heal the ligament damage in her left thumb following the Olympics. She won the HSBC Women’s Champions in just her second start to this new season. She’s looking for back-to-back victories this week.

After earning Hall of Fame induction last year, and her gold medal, Park said she wondered what was left for her to achieve, but she said the time away healing made her hungry to return to the tour.

Park said returning to No. 1 doesn’t motivate her anymore. Winning a particular championship doesn’t drive her, either. She said winning Rolex Player of the Year again, or the money title again, aren’t huge ambitions.

Park said she did, however, return with a greater appreciation for tour life, for opportunities she wants to continue to enjoy. She said she’s going to treat this return to golf as a new beginning.

It’s unclear, Park said, how long she will play in this second career.

“Obviously I would like to have a family later in the future, but not really at the moment,” she said. “Really can't guarantee about the future. I say maybe three, four years or whatever, but I can change my mind over a day. I have seen myself doing that. I really can't guarantee myself how long I'm going to play, really, but it’s good that I'm playing right now. Doesn't matter how long. It's the quality that matters.”