In advance of British, Park's sights set on record-setting

By Randall MellJuly 9, 2013, 8:54 pm

Inbee Park has some special company in her return to play this week in Canada.

Record-making history is her traveling companion now, and that’s a great thing for the women’s game.

Park will take the best story going in golf with her when she makes her way around the Grey Silo Golf Course in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, beginning Thursday. She will be going for a fourth consecutive LPGA title when the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic begins, and yet all anyone wants to ask her about is her bid to become the first man or woman to win four professional majors in a season. She lit a fuse on the women’s game winning the U.S. Women’s Open the week before last to join Babe Zaharias (1950) as the only women to win the first three majors of the season.

Park, who celebrates her 25th birthday on Friday, knows she will be asked a lot about her history-making quest leading up to the Ricoh Women’s British Open at St. Andrews in three weeks.

There’s a challenge in the intensity of interest following her.

“I try not to think about it, but I think about 50 people have reminded me,” Park said Tuesday in her pre-tournament news conference in Canada. “I’m very lucky that I get that opportunity, where I have a chance to win four straight majors. All those things are just a gift for me, for playing good golf. Not many people get that opportunity, and I think I’m the lucky one, so I think I should appreciate it.”

Trying to become the first player to win four professional majors in a season is a monumental quest unto itself. Trying to do it at the home of golf, on the Old Course at St. Andrews, is almost fairy tale in its scripting.

“It would mean the world to me,” Park said. “I don’t think I even dreamed that far, to be honest. I never dreamed of doing a calendar Grand Slam ... That’s a tough thing. It would just mean a lot, something very special, doing something nobody’s ever done before.”

Manulife Financial LPGA: Articles, videos and photos

Photos: Inbee Park's career

After a whirlwind 24-hour tour of major networks in New York following her U.S. Women’s Open triumph, Park flew to Las Vegas, where she was equally busy house hunting with her fiancé/coach in record heat in the desert. She said she finally got to enjoy some down time at the end of last week with no event on the tour schedule.

Park needed the rest with her phone “ringing non-stop.” She said while it was tiring, she has enjoyed fielding all the congratulatory messages, including letters from Arnold Palmer and South Korean president Park Geun-hye. She was impressed at the details in Palmer’s letter, leading her to believe he watched the U.S. Women’s Open closely.

“If I were to play this tournament right after the U.S. Open, I think it would have been a lot tougher for me, just coming off the Sunday win,” Park said. “I feel more relaxed. I feel more refreshed. I feel a lot better this week. I think I’ve calmed down a lot.”

Park is going for her seventh LPGA title this season. She nearly won this event a year ago, losing to Brittany Lang in a playoff. There promises to be tough competition again this week with nine of the top 10 players in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings in Canada. Of course, Park is used to bouncing back quickly. Dating back to last year’s Manulife LPGA Classic, Park has made 27 LPGA starts and finished T-2 or better a remarkable 14 times. She won eight of those starts.

If Park wins her fourth event in a row this week, she will equal yet another LPGA record, tying Mickey Wright, Kathy Whitworth and Annika Sorenstam for most consecutive victories in scheduled events. Wright did it twice, in 1962 and again in ’63. Nancy Lopez and Sorenstam share the record for winning the most consecutive LPGA starts with five. The difference in the records is not all five of their starts came in consecutive events on the tour schedule.

Park’s march through history is good for the women’s game, but the attention is something new for Park.

“It was weird getting that kind of attention,” Park said. “It was really different. It was a little fun for me  ... I’m trying to get used to it, not totally used to it yet, but still learning.”

Even with all the pressure coming down on her at the U.S. Women’s Open, Park seemed remarkably unaffected. She looks like she plays with an unshakable peace. She says the course is her refuge, and she hopes to keep it that way.

“When I'm inside the golf course, I can't think about too many things,” Park said. “When I'm outside the golf course, whether I want to hear, or I don't want to hear, I'm going to hear it. There's no doubt about that. I'm a human, and I think a lot of the same things that everybody else does, and I hear all the things that everybody talks about. I know I want to do something that somebody has never done before. I just know that it wouldn't be so helpful on the golf course, so I try to concentrate just on golf, on the golf course.”

It’s a formula taking Park on a record chasing journey.

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Kang 'going with the flow,' one back of A. Jutanugarn

By Associated PressOctober 18, 2018, 9:43 am

SHANGHAI – Ariya Jutanugarn shot a 6-under 66 to take a one-stroke lead after the first round of the Buick LPGA Shanghai tournament on Thursday.

The Thai player had six birdies in a bogey-free round, including three straight on Nos. 4, 5, and 6.

''I always have so much fun when I play in Asia,'' said Jutanugarm, who added her key was ''just not to expect anything. Just go out have fun and enjoy everything.''

Sei Young Kim and Danielle Kang (both 67) were one shot back, with six other players only two shots off the lead.

Full-field scores from the Buick LPGA Shanghai

The tournament is the second of five being played in South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan in the LPGA's annual Asian swing.

Kang credited her improved play to new coach Butch Harmon.

''We just kind of simplify the game a lot,'' the American said. ''Just trying to calm it down and get back to how I used to play. Just more feel golf. Thinking less mechanics and going with the flow.''

Kang tied for third last week at the KEB Hana Bank championship in Incheon, South Korea.

''Today's round went very smooth,'' Kang said. ''Coming off very good momentum after last week, and I've been hitting the ball really well, playing great. I've just been trusting my game and just keep giving myself birdie chances. They kept rolling in.''

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Sharpshooting Reavie (68) leads tough CJ Cup

By Associated PressOctober 18, 2018, 9:34 am

JEJU ISLAND, South Korea – Chez Reavie overcame cool, windy conditions for a 4-under 68 and a one-stroke lead after the first round of the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges on Thursday.

In the breezy conditions, the back nine of the course posed the most difficulty, but the 36-year-old American made two birdies and negotiated it in 35 after starting on the 10th tee, and then picked up three shots on his final nine.

Danny Willett and Si Woo Kim shot 69 while the large group at 70, and tied for fourth, included Ian PoulterNick Watney and Michael Kim.

Brooks Koepka, playing in his first tournament since being voted PGA Tour Player of the Year, shot 71 and was in a group three strokes behind and tied for 11th, which included Paul Casey and Hideki Matsuyama.

Jason Dufner and Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Defending champion Justin Thomas had a 73, as did Jason Day, Ernie Els and J.B. Holmes.

Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos

Marc Leishman, who won last week's CIMB Classic in Malaysia, and Adam Scott had 75s.

Reavie's only PGA Tour win came at the 2008 Canadian Open, and he finished second in back-to-back starts last year in Phoenix and Pebble Beach, losing at Phoenix in a playoff.

''It was a great day, I hit the ball really well,'' Reavie said of Thursday's round. ''The wind was blowing really hard all day long so you had to really start the ball well and keep it out of the wind. Luckily, I was able to do that.''

Despite the windy conditions, Reavie found all 14 fairways off the tee and hit 15 out of 18 greens in regulation, which he felt was the key to a good score.

''It's tough because once you get above the hole with this wind, it's really hard to chip it close,'' he said. ''The more greens you can hit, the better and that was key to my game.''

Willett, who has struggled with injuries and form since winning the 2016 Masters and has dropped to No. 342 in the world, made five birdies and two bogeys in his 69. Willett has just one top-five finish since finishing second in the Italian Open in September 2016.

Having committed to play on the PGA Tour by taking up membership this season, Willet said it was important to make a quick start to the season.

''I've done two tours for a couple of years, and it's very difficult,'' Willett said. ''We committed to play on the PGA Tour, to play predominantly over here this year and next. It's nice to kind of get in and get some points early if you can.''

The second of three PGA Tour events in three weeks in Asia has a 78-player field and no cut. Only 19 players broke par on Thursday.

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Koepka takes edge over Thomas in race for world No. 1

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 18, 2018, 5:50 am

Brooks Koepka got the inside track against Justin Thomas in their head-to-head battle this week for world No. 1.

Koepka shot 1-under 71 on Thursday at the CJ Cup, while Thomas shot 1-over 73.

Chez Reavie leads after 18 holes at Nine Bridges in Juju Island, South Korea, following a 4-under 68.

Koepka, currently world No. 3, needs to win this week or finish solo second [without Thomas winning] in order to reach the top spot in the rankings for the first time in his career. Thomas, currently No. 4, must win to reclaim the position he surrendered in June.

One week after 26 under par proved victorious in Malaysia, birdies weren’t as aplenty to begin the second leg of the PGA Tour’s Asian swing.

Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos

In chilly, windy conditions, Koepka and Thomas set out alongside one another – with Sungjae Im (73) as the third – on the 10th hole. Koepka bogeyed his first hole of the day on his way to turning in even-par 36. Thomas was one worse, with two bogeys and a birdie.

On their second nine, Koepka was steady with two birdies and a bogey to reach red figures for the day.

"I felt like I played good. I hit some good shots, missed a couple putts early and kind put myself in a little bit of trouble on the back nine, my front, but rallied pretty nicely," Koepka said. "I felt like I found a bit of rhythm. But it's a difficult day, anything under par, level par is a good score out there today. I'm pleased with it."

Thomas, however, had two birdies and a double bogey on his inward half. The double came at the par-4 fourth, where he four-putted. He nearly made up those two strokes on his final hole, the par-5 ninth, when a wild approach shot [as you can see below] traversed the contours of the green and settled 6 feet from the hole. But Thomas missed the short eagle putt and settled for birdie.

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Watch: Thomas' approach takes wild ride on CJ Cup green

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 18, 2018, 5:17 am

Two over par with one hole to play in Round 1 of the CJ Cup, Justin Thomas eyed an eagle at the par-5 ninth [his 18th].

And he nearly got it, thanks to his ball beautifully navigating the curves of the green.

Thomas hit a big draw for his second shot and his ball raced up the green's surface, towards the back, where it caught the top of ridge and funneled down to within 6 feet of the hole.

Unfortunately for Thomas, the defending champion, he missed the eagle putt and settled for birdie and a 1-over 73.