Grace Park Defends in Home Country


2005 CJ Nine Bridges ClassicJEJU, South Korea - Grace Park is hoping a trip home is just what the doctor ordered to turn around a season that has been sub-par according to the South Korean star's standards. Park, who finished second on the official money sist last year and won her first-career Vare Trophy, has battled lingering back problems this year and is currently 38th in earnings.
Park can turn her season around and end it on a positive note with a strong performance at the $1.35 million CJ Nine Bridges Classic Presented by Sports Today, which is contested on beautiful Jeju Island in her home country of South Korea.
Like Dorothy said, 'There's no place like home,' and that could not be any more true for Park and the 16 other LPGA players of South Korean descent who will be teeing it up on home soil this week at the lavish Club at Nine Bridges. The three winners - Se Ri Pak, Shi Hyun Ahn and Park - of this event have all hailed from South Korea.
However, there are many other players looking to spoil this happy homecoming and become the first non-South Korean to win the 54-hole event. First among them is world No. 1 Annika Sorenstam, who can equal her career best win total, 11, if she sweeps her final three tournaments. Her quest for history begins this week.
Sorenstam finished tied for fifth in 2002 before skipping the event in 2003. Last year, she opened with a 71 (-1), but then rallied with consecutive 67s to finish tied for second with Carin Koch, five shots back of Park.
This year, she is enjoying one of the most successful seasons in her career. She has eight wins-three by eight shots or more-and has already wrapped up the money title and Rolex Player of the Year laurels, setting LPGA records in both.
Another player to keep an eye on this week is 2005 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year award winner Paula Creamer. Creamer is second on the Money List and has a knack of winning tournaments held outside of the United States. This year, she has a win in France at the Evian Masters and two in Japan (both wins in Japan were not LPGA events) and she has finished second in three of her last four LPGA starts. She also led the U.S. Solheim Cup Team to victory over Europe with a team-best 3-1-1 record, making her one of the game's brightest stars.
Last year, Park won the Kraft Nabisco Championship, but then toiled to get back into the winner's circle as she recorded six runner-up finishes before winning this event. Her scores of 66-69-65 helped her win the Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average, and her five-shot win was the first multi-shot victory of her career.
In her three appearances at the CJ Nine Bridges Classic, Park has a win, a runner-up and a tie for 11th. Maybe some home cooking is all she needs this week, too.
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  • Full Coverage - CJ Nine Bridges Classic