No. 1 Park eyes second major of season at Wegmans

By Randall MellJune 5, 2013, 9:53 pm

PITTSFORD, N.Y. – Inbee Park’s father didn’t get to jump into Poppie’s Pond with his daughter when she won the Kraft Nabisco Championship in the year’s first major.

Park, though, did the next best thing for her father, Gun Gyu Park.

She brought Poppie’s Pond to him.

Two weeks after the triumph, Park led an unofficial ceremony at the Lotte Championship with her father there. She uncapped a plastic bottle of water she took from Poppie’s Pond and doused her father with it. She gave him a second capped bottle to take home as a keepsake.

“It would have been better if he could have jumped in Poppie’s Pond with me, but he was happy,” Park said.

Park’s family is awash in giddiness over Park’s swift rise in the women’s game. While the odds are steep, the Rolex world No. 1 enters Thursday’s start of the Wegmans LPGA Championship with a chance to win the grandest of Grand Slams. She enters with a chance to become the first player to win five majors in a single season on any tour.

Yeah, it’s unfathomably difficult, but as the winner of the Kraft Nabisco Championship two months ago, Park’s the only woman who has a chance to do so with the LPGA adding the Evian Masters as a fifth major this year.


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How monumental is the challenge? No woman has ever won four majors in a row, much less four in the same year. In the last 40 years, only two women have won the first two majors of the year. Annika Sorenstam did it in ’05 and Pat Bradley in ’86.

Park gives herself a chance to win back-to-back majors with her uncanny ability to get into contention week after week. Throw out her uncharacteristic sluggishness in her last two starts, and Park’s consistent run on to leaderboards is impressive.

It was at last year’s Wegmans LPGA Championship when a light came on for Park. She started a torrid run that would build confidence and momentum leading to her tour-best three victories this season.

Here’s the run Park initiated at Wegmans last year: T-9, T-2, T-4, T-9, Win, T-3, T-2, 2nd, 2nd, Win, T-15, 2nd, T-17, 2nd.

Park rose to No. 1 a week after winning the Kraft Nabisco Championship in April. She has reigned there for eight weeks.

“I still can’t believe I’m No. 1,” Park said. “It’s tough to believe I’m the top player on this great tour. This is a world tour with so many different players representing so many different countries.”

Being the top player from South Korea is quite the achievement in itself.

Park’s going for something beyond personal triumph this week. She’s bidding to give South Korea its fourth consecutive major championship victory. Na Yeon Choi won the U.S. Women’s Open last summer, Jiyai Shin followed winning the Ricoh Women’s British Open a month later and Park won this year’s Kraft Nabisco.

Park, Choi and Shin were all invited into the media center Wednesday to talk about their success. They look like they’re going to be factors for a long time. Park is 24, Choi and Shin are both 25.

“I’m just really proud of my country,” Park said. “I’m really proud of all the friends that are playing out here. We’re all a similar age group, and we all grew up playing together.”

Asked why South Koreans have risen to power in women’s golf, Park practically shrugged her shoulders.

“I don’t know, it’s in our blood,” Park said.

Park, Choi and Shin are well suited for the challenge offered at Locust Hill this week.

This may be the toughest this course has ever been set up.

“Every year, the rough’s getting thicker and the fairways more narrow,” Park said, “I don’t know whether I’m getting old or the course is getting tougher.”

The rough is only 3 ½ inches long, according to tournament officials, but it is brutally thick and gnarly. The fairways are pinched. The greens are small targets.

The course isn’t overly long at 6,534 yards, but with rain likely Thursday, it will feel as if it’s playing a lot longer.

“The rough is as long as I’ve seen it,” said Karrie Webb, winner of last week’s Shoprite Classic. “I’ve heard we could get 2 inches of rain tomorrow. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but if it does rain, the rough isn’t going to get any less thick or less long. It’s going to be tough.”

That suits Park, Choi and Shin as proven major winners.

As Park said, though, the women’s game is so competitive at the top with no player on the kind of dominant runs that Sorenstam, Lorena Ochoa and Yani Tseng enjoyed.

“It’s still a big fight for No. 1,” Park said. “It could change every week. We are really good for each other and for the tour. We share a lot of our wins together, and we have a lot of champions.”

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Koepka's game 'where it should be' even after injury

By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2018, 11:18 pm

AVONDALE, La. – Brooks Koepka didn’t look rusty Thursday while making six birdies in the first round of the Zurich Classic.

Making his first start in four months because of a torn ligament in his left wrist, Koepka and partner Marc Turnesa shot a 5-under 67 in fourballs at TPC Louisiana.

“It felt good,” Koepka said afterward. “It was just nice to be out here. I played pretty solid.”

The reigning U.S. Open champion felt soreness in his wrist the week after he won the Dunlop Phoenix in the fall. He finished last at the Hero World Challenge in December and then the following month at the Tournament of Champions before shutting it down.

He only began practicing last week and decided to commit to the Zurich Classic after three solid days at Medalist. He decided to partner with one of his friends in South Florida, Marc Turnesa, a former PGA Tour winner who now works in real estate.

Koepka hasn’t lost any distance because of the injury – he nearly drove the green on the 355-yard 16th hole. He’s planning to play the next two weeks, at the Wells Fargo Championship and The Players.

“I feel like I’m playing good enough to be right where I should be in April,” he said. “I feel good, man. There’s nothing really wrong with my game right now.”

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Like a tattoo: Ko shares early Mediheal lead

By Randall MellApril 26, 2018, 10:45 pm

Lydia Ko put herself in early position Thursday to try to extend her birthday celebration through Sunday at the LPGA Mediheal Championship.

Ko, who turned 21 on Tuesday, is off to a strong start at Lake Merced Golf Club, where she has a lot of good memories to draw upon as she seeks to regain the winning form that made her the greatest teen phenom in the history of the women’s game.

With a 4-under-par 68, Ko moved into a four-way tie for the lead among the morning wave in the first round. I.K. Kim, Jessica Korda and Caroline Hedwall also opened with 68s.

All Ko has to do is look at her right wrist to feel good about returning to San Francisco. That’s where she tattooed the date April 27, 2014, in Roman numerals. That’s how she commemorated her Swinging Skirts victory at Lake Merced, her first title as an LPGA member. She won there again the following year.

“This is a golf course where I've played well,” Ko said. “The fans have been amazing. They’ve been super supportive every single time I've come here, even since I played the U.S. Juniors here.”


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Ko made it to the semifinals of the U.S. Girls’ Junior at Lake Merced in 2012.

“It just brings back a lot of great memories,” she said.

Ko got this week off to a good start with friends from South Korea and New Zealand flying to California to surprise her on her birthday. She was born in South Korea and grew up in New Zealand.

“Turning 21 is a huge thing in the United States,” Ko cracked. “I’m legal now, and I can do some fun things.”

Ko is looking to claim her 15th LPGA title and end a 21-month winless spell. Her ball striking was sharp Thursday, as she continues to work on improvements under her swing coach, Ted Oh. She hit 11 of 14 fairways and 16 of 18 greens in regulation.

“My ball striking's been getting better these last few weeks, which has been really nice,” Ko said at week’s start. “But then I've been struggling with putting, which was the aspect of the game that was going really well. I feel like the pieces are there, and just, sometimes, the hardest thing is to kind of put all those pieces together. Just have to stay patient, I know there are a lot of good things happening.”

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Watch: Rose drops trou despite gator danger

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 26, 2018, 10:12 pm

We all know how fashion-conscious pro golfers are, and sometimes that even trumps modesty.

Take Justin Rose, whose tee shot on the par-3 third hole in Thursday's opening round of the Zurich Classic found the water. But the ball was close enough to shore for Rose to try to play it. Not wanting to get his light-colored pants dirty - what is up with all the white pants on Tour these days, anyway? - he took them off to play the shot.

If there were any gators in the water hazard - and this being Louisiana, there almost certainly were - they showed no interest in the Englishman.

It was only appropriate that Rose should strip down for a shot, as his partner, Henrik Stenson, famously did the same thing (to an even greater degree) at Doral in 2009.

Finally, just to provide some closure, Rose failed to get up and down.

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Like father like son: Bring Your Child to Work Day

By Jay CoffinApril 26, 2018, 7:51 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Today is Take Our Sons and Daughters to Work Day at Golf Channel, where everything is fun and games until your child promptly says something that embarrasses you beyond belief. It’s only happened six times today. So far.

My daughter, 12, is in middle school and feels like she’s too big for this sort of shindig. But my son Brady, 11, was all in. The deal was that he could spend the day with me, I’d take him to McDonald’s for lunch, but he had to write a golf story of some sort for GolfChannel.com.

Here is his unedited work, in all its glory:

By BRADY COFFIN

My name is Brady Coffin and I play golf. I started at the age of 4 years old. My two favorite golfers are Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods. They are really good golfers and every time I watch them they always give me tips.

My dad Jay Coffin is the best editor of Golf Channel and always gave me tips when I first put the golf club in my hand. I had my very first par in Hilton Head when I was 7 years old. I am on the Drive, Chip and Putt commercial and I was in a movie where I played a young Ben Hogan. My favorite golf course is Royal Blue in the Bahamas.

I have won many golf tournaments and I am going to play in another tournament next month. I have made a couple of birdies. I am going to play in the PGA Junior League this summer.

At the Golf Channel I get to meet new people and play many games. One of the amazing people I met was Mr. Damon Hack. He is on the Morning Drive show and was very nice to me. Damon has been playing golf for 25 years and his favorite golfer growing up was Tiger Woods.

He loves working at Golf Channel.

“It gives me the opportunity to talk and write about the sport that I love. It’s a sport that I can play with my boys. It’s a sport that I can watch on television. It’s a sport that teaches great life lessons. I couldn’t ask for a better job,” Damon said to me.

(P.S. I will be better than Jordan Spieth.)