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Park Eyes Second Major at McDonalds

04 McDonaldWILMINGTON, Del. -- Grace Park doesn't need a world ranking, a money list or another statistic to tell where she is on the LPGA Tour landscape.
'I just know there's one person ahead of me,' she said Wednesday.
Park knows what it's like to be No. 2 behind Annika Sorenstam, on paper and on the golf course.
A year ago, she found herself in contention at a major for the first time in the LPGA Championship, closing with a 67 at DuPont Country Club to force a playoff with the best player in women's golf. Park played a safe but short tee shot, then tried to pound a 4-iron up the hill and came up short in thick rough, making bogey to lose to Sorenstam.
'This is the best finish in a major for me so for, so I'll always remember this -- but you won't,' Park told reporters that day. 'Nobody will. Nobody remembers second.'

A year later, Park can look back at that bitter loss as a turning point in her career. She swore that she would never let another opportunity slip away so easily, and so far, she has made good on her promise.
Second on the money list and in the player-of-the-year standings, Park comes into the LPGA Championship with another 'No. 2' in mind -- trying to capture the second leg of the Grand Slam.
Three months ago, she holed a 6-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole at Mission Hills to win the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the first major of her career and a clear sign that the awesome potential she showed as an amateur is ready to come to fruition.
'Finishing second here last year makes me want to win this more,' she said. 'Winning the first major of the year makes me crave my second major. I really want to do it. Since winning Kraft Nabisco, I've kind of slowed down, and I think it's finally time for me to step up again.
'This is the week to do it.'
Her life has been geared toward this. Born in South Korea, she moved to the United States when she was 12 to learn how to play golf. She won an NCAA title at Arizona State, and in 1998 joined Patty Berg as the only women to sweep the top three women's amateur events in one year.
Unlike the instant success enjoyed by Se Ri Pak (two majors as a rookie) and Karrie Webb (leading money-winner as a rookie), Park's progress has been slow. She has never won more than one tournament in a season, and that remains the case this year.
Then again, her lone title was a major, and her peers expect greatness to follow.
'I've always respected Grace's game,' Sorenstam said. 'And most of all, I really like her attitude. She's very motivated. It was just a matter of time for Grace to win the first major. I don't think anybody was surprised.'
Sorenstam remains No. 1 by a mile.
She already has won three times this year, although her goal of winning the Grand Slam ended quickly when she tied for 13th at the Kraft Nabisco. Sorenstam, 33, is at a stage in her career where she is limiting her tournament schedule to focus more on the majors.
She has good vibes at DuPont. She hit a 7-wood into the tough 18th in regulation last year that set up par to force a playoff, and she used a clutch tee shot and 6-iron on the first extra hole to win.
'Wonderful memories from last year,' Sorenstam said.
The McDonald's LPGA Championship has a recent history of bringing out the best in women's golf.
Pak has won at DuPont twice in the last six years, and she is as big a threat to Sorenstam as anyone. Juli Inkster won back to back at the LPGA Championship and, two weeks before her 44th birthday, has not shown any signs of slowing down. Webb, who won the LPGA in 2001 to complete the career Grand Slam, is coming off a victory last week.
They face a DuPont course that has some of the thickest rough they will see all year, including the U.S. Women's Open in three weeks. The greens have subtle contours that are difficult to read. Twice since 2000, the winner has shot over par in the final round.
'It's a true test,' Sorenstam said.
The challenge for Park is not to get too far ahead of herself. Having won the first major, she is the only one capable of winning the Grand Slam, and many believe that's realistic.
'My goal this year was to win one major, and after winning the first, I changed it to winning two major championships,' Park said. 'And if I'm fortunate to win this one, I'll switch it to three and go from there.'
But she has not lost sight of her primary goal -- replacing Sorenstam as the best in women's golf.
That, too, remains a work in progress.
'I don't know if I can beat Annika this year,' Park said. 'She's so far ahead of everyone. My goal is to not only catch her, but to get my game higher and better, so that I can be No. 1.'
It all starts with No. 2 -- the second major of the year.
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