18 holes of memories for new Hall of Famer Park

By Randall MellJune 10, 2016, 3:59 am

SAMMAMISH, Wash. – Inbee Park marched more than 18 holes to qualify for the LPGA Hall of Fame Thursday at the KPMG Women’s Championship.

She marched through a lifetime of memories.

A dutiful daughter, Park listened when her father, Gun Gyu, offered some advice in the morning before she headed out to start the round that would meet the final requirement she needed to enter the LPGA Hall of Fame. He told her it was poetic that she would play 18 holes, because it had been 18 years since he first put a club in her hands back in their native South Korea. He told her to remember what went into each year of the journey as she played her way to the day’s final putt.

“It feels very special because it starts back to when I just started playing golf, watching a lot of players on TV and thinking that I wanted to be there,” Park said. “I wanted to be on the LPGA tour ... I wanted to be up with the greatest players in history.”

Park met the 27-point requirement needed to make it into the most difficult Hall of Fame in sports to qualify for last year, but she needed to make 10 starts this year to meet the 10-year membership requirement. When she tapped in her last putt Thursday at Sahalee Country Club, she officially became the youngest player to be inducted in the LPGA Hall of Fame. At 27, she reached the pinnacle of her sport.

The memories that came flooding back, Park said, helped her appreciate what a Hall of Fame career really encompasses.

“It’s a great feeling because it's not just about major championships or winning tournaments,” she said. “It's not just about the smiles that are in a career. It's about the tears. It's about the frustration. It's about the happiness. It's about the success, everything.”

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Let the record show a final bogey left Park shooting a 1-over-par 72, a score she could be proud of given how tough Sahalee was playing and how difficult inflammation in her left thumb has made it for her to play this year. There were fears these last steps into the Hall of Fame could be an agonizing march because of her injury, but Park rose above the discomfort.

“It was great she got through the way she did, because there was no guarantee that was going to happen,” said Brad Beecher, her long-time caddie. “She battled on through.

“You know how she is when she gets to a major. She just switches into a different gear. That gear switched on, and there was no thought of the thumb. She didn’t mention it at all.”

As Park made her way down the 18th fairway, Beecher told her to relish the walk.

“Enjoy this,” he told her. “You earned every step of it.”

As Park walked off the 18th green, LPGA commissioner Mike Whan handed her a bouquet of 27 white roses, each representing a point required for induction. Then Se Ri Pak, the woman who inspired Park and a legion of South Koreans to play the game, hugged her. Park joins Pak as the only Koreans in the LPGA Hall of Fame.

“I’m very proud of her,” Pak said. “It’s not really easy to do, all the points, the winning.”

Hall of Famers Annika Sorenstam, Karrie Webb, Juli Inkster and Pat Bradley followed Pak in hugging Park.

“She’s a hell of a player, had a great run,” Inkster said. “I think sometimes she doesn’t get the credit she deserves, really proud of her.”

Park enters the LPGA Hall of Fame with 17 victories, seven of them major championships. She was the Rolex Player of the Year in 2013, becoming the first South Korean to claim the award. She won the Vare Trophy for low scoring average in 2012 and ’14.

“I feel truly blessed that my thumb and my body and my mind and everything really held up out there today,” Park said. “I grinded really well out there. Everything kind of really worked the way I wanted to. Obviously, the score is not the greatest, but I definitely am satisfied with the score ... I enjoyed today. I don’t think I would change it for any other round I’ve had in my life.”

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Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
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Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.

Updated Official World Golf Ranking

There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”