Park not just winning, but making history

By Randall MellJune 15, 2015, 12:27 am

HARRISON, N.Y. – Inbee Park is the best player today in the women’s game.

There’s no doubt now.

With her commanding performance Sunday winning the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, Park ascends back to No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Ranking, overtaking Lydia Ko, but the ranking is almost inconsequential. The true measure of Park’s supremacy is how she’s dominating major championships at a time when the women’s game is arguably as deep as it’s ever been with so much international talent.

Park pulled away from everybody on a tough track at Westchester Country Club and won by five shots. She was at her best on the weekend with the pressure the most intense. She didn’t make a bogey shooting 5-under-par 68 in the final round, didn’t make a bogey shooting 66 on Saturday, either. She didn’t make a bogey over her last 56 holes.

“I probably feel more happy winning this major championship than being back to No. 1 again,” Park said.

Park showed yet again Sunday that she has no equal today on the game’s grandest stages. In fact, this victory thrusts her into an even larger conversation. She’s only 26, but we can now begin to ask where she stands among the greats in the women’s game and wonder just where she might end up. That’s what winning five of the last 12 major championships does. It’s what winning her sixth major overall does.

Sunday’s triumph was Park’s third consecutive in this championship with the Women’s PGA Championship adopting all the history and records of the LPGA Championship, the special foundation this event is built upon. Annika Sorenstam is the only other player to win this event three consecutive years (2003-05).

KPMG Women’s PGA: Articles, videos and photos

“It feels amazing to win three times in a row,” Park said. “Obviously, putting my name alongside Annika Sorenstam and Patty Berg, legends of golf, on this trophy, just being a part of the history of this golf tournament, I feel extremely honored. I can't believe that I just did it. I mean, it has not really sunk down yet.”

That’s the thing with Park now. She’s winning so many of these majors her record is building historic impact.

When she won the first three majors of 2013, she achieved something no woman had done since Babe Zaharias in 1950.

Park has now won as many majors as Kathy Whitworth, Pat Bradley, Patty Sheehan and Betsy King.

Only eight women in the history of the game have won more majors.

Park was asked afterward if making history matters to her.

“I always dreamed of being a part of history,” Park said. “There is my name on this trophy, my name on the U.S. Open trophy. There’s my name on great championships ... I look at my name on this trophy, all the legendary players, and we still remember them.”

Park’s victory at Westchester is especially monumental back in her native South Korea, where women’s golf is so popular. It gives her one more major championship triumph now than Se Ri Pak, the South Korean icon who inspired so many players of Park’s generation growing up in their homeland.

“Se Ri had great accomplishments in women's golf, inspired a lot of young Korean golfers like me,” Park said. “I never thought I would be able to win more majors than her, or tournaments than her.”

Park has a way to go to catch Pak’s 25 LPGA titles. Park is now up to 15.

Still, this major championship run, the history Park made making a run at the Grand Slam two years ago, now winning the LPGA Championship three years in a row, it’s making an impression on the South Koreans chasing her.

“Inbee’s the best ever,” Kim said when asked where Park ranked among South Korea’s great golfers.

Better than Se Ri?

“Yes,” Kim said. “Best ever.”

That’s up for debate, but there’s no debating Park’s major championship performances are separating her from everyone in today’s game. Karrie Webb, Stacy Lewis, Suzann Pettersen, Cristie Kerr, Brittany Lincicome Lexi Thompson, Shanshan Feng, Anna Nordqvist, So Yeon Ryu, Na Yeon Choi, Morgan Pressel, Michelle Wie and Hyo Joo Kim have all proven themselves in major championships. Ko, Sei Young Kim and one of the best rookie classes in the history of the game are destined to win majors, probably a lot of them, but they’re all going to have to get by Park, whose ball-striking is becoming as formidable as her putting.

“Three years ago, it seemed like she was just riding her putter,” Lewis said. “That was pretty obvious. She was making putts from everywhere. Over the last year, I don’t think her putting has been as good, but her ball-striking has gotten better. She gets hot with her putter now, with her good ball-striking, it’s a pretty deadly combination.”

Lewis was impressed that Park’s game is built to win on so many different kinds of courses. She proved that winning this championship at Locust Hill, Monroe Golf Club and Westchester. Park is known for her putting, but she also has one of the best short games on tour. Lewis says Park’s all-around game is underappreciated.

“She doesn’t do anything flashy, or just blow you away,” Lewis said. “She doesn’t have length to where she can bomb it over trees or reach par 5s. She just goes about her business and makes it look easy.”

Park won the U.S. Women’s Open when she was 19, but then she struggled to play at that level again, going winless for three years. She began overhauling her swing with coach Gi Hyeob Nam in 2011 with the full effect of it kicking in during the 2012 season, when she won three times worldwide.

“My ball-striking's been improved probably 300 percent,” Park said. “He's been really the key factor. The ball-striking has been really the key factor for my career. My swing change obviously was the best thing that I've ever done.”

Park married Nam last year.

“He really loves golf,” said Brad Beecher, Park’s long-time caddie. “He works so hard for her. He puts so much effort into to helping her, and I think that really inspires her. She is just driven to get better and better.”

It’s becoming a history-making drive.

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Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”