Park trails by eight, but not giving up hope

By Randall MellAugust 2, 2013, 7:23 pm

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – Inbee Park’s quest is more daunting now.

There is more to overcome trying to make history on the Old Course at St. Andrews this weekend than there was at tournament’s start.

The mountain is harder to climb after a round of 1-over-par 73 Friday left her eight shots behind a fierce front-runner with a host of major championship winners also stacked up in front of her at the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

Park is tied for 22nd in her bid to become the first man or woman to win four professional major championships in a single season.

There will be hard work trying to catch fellow South Korean Na Yeon Choi, whose 67 in the second round was brilliant in the heavy winds buffeting the Old Course. Choi knows how to close out leads. She won the U.S. Women’s Open last year, one of her 12 worldwide titles and her seven LPGA titles.

Park doesn’t just have to get past Choi. She has to get by a formidable cast of proven winners between her and Choi. She has to pass Morgan Pressel, Suzann Pettersen, Stacy Lewis, So Yeon Ryu and Paula Creamer. They’re all major championship winners.

“You have your usual contenders,” Lewis said. “The tough, gritty players are the ones up there. You have U.S. Open winners, major winners, but anybody under par is not out of this, depending what the weather does.”

Lewis is not discounting Park.

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“She is not out of it,” Lewis said. “If it gets windy, she isn’t out of it.”

If Park is going to win, she will have to take a different route to the trophy than she did winning the first three majors of the year. At the Kraft Nabisco, she led by one shot after two rounds. At the Wegmans LPGA Championship, she was tied for second just two shots back going into the weekend. At the U.S. Women’s Open, she led by two halfway through.

Make no mistake, Park is feeling the weight of history, the pressure that comes with trying to make history. She said as much after Friday’s round. That doesn’t mean her knees are buckling. In fact, she believes it’s making her stronger, that it will make her stronger.

Park revealed something about herself again after the second round with her ability to step back and see the big picture. She keeps showing us how she looks at things differently, and maybe that’s why she seems to play with an unshakeable sense of peace, even though she tells us she isn’t as unflappable as we all think. Her perspective isn’t like most 25-year-olds. She sounds like someone who relishes the journey more than the destination.

“Whether I win or I don’t, the last two days have been some great moments,” Park said. “If I can handle this pressure, I will not be afraid of anything in my career.”

Park went from ESPN to Golf Channel to the BBC and South Korean TV after her round before then being cornered by writers. She was asked if the attention can all be too much, and she smiled. She said she was trying to embrace the experience and all that goes with it.

“This is pretty much the only week I’m going to get this much, so I should enjoy this moment,” Park said. “I’m trying to enjoy every moment I’m here.”

The golf has been tough with Park’s driver not cooperating the way she would like, though her 73 Friday was respectable in the windy conditions. She sees lessons in days like these. She sees experience. She sees that big picture.

“When you experience something big like this, some kind of big pressure like this, you’re just really not afraid of any kind of pressure,” Park said. “How can it get bigger than this? Anything is going to be less than this.”

Park’s day started roughly after she pulled her opening tee shot way left. Given the trouble she had with her driver late in Thursday’s round, it was disconcerting. She missed the first green and opened with a bogey.

Her caddie, Brad Beecher, liked the way Park played the back nine and the way she finished with a birdie on the 18th for a second straight day.

“She really found her swing on the back nine and hit a lot of solid golf shots,” Beecher said. “Obviously, it was a lot tougher out there.”

Park isn’t counting herself out. This is St. Andrews. The winds of fortune can change overnight. The way the weather changes around here, an early tee time with a break in the morning weather might be all she needs to jumpstart her quest.

“There are still two days to go,” Beecher said. “If we are out a little bit earlier tomorrow, we can press the number.”

Park sees possibilities in the big picture.

“You just never know what’s going to happen the next two days, especially if the conditions get tougher,” Park said. “I think anything could happen out here.”

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Koepka primed for CJ Cup win and world No. 1

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 6:00 am

Brooks Koepka wants a 2-for-1 at the CJ Cup. If he can collect his second non-major PGA Tour victory he can become world No. 1 for the first time in his career.

He’s in great position to accomplish his goal.

Koepka eagled the par-5 18th en route to a 7-under 65 in the second round at Nine Bridges in Juju Island, South Korea. At 8 under par, he is one back of 36-hole leader Scott Piercy (65).

Koepka, currently ranked third in the world, began the day three shots off the lead, but rapidly ascended the leaderboard. He birdied four of his first eight holes before finding trouble at the ninth. Koepka hooked his tee shot out of bounds, but the ninth is a par 5 and he was able to salvage bogey.

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That was his only dropped shot of the day.

The reigning Tour Player of the Year birdied the 12th and 14th holes in his bid to keep pace with Piercy. Koepka was two back as he played his final hole, where he knocked his second shot to 10 feet. He deftly converted the eagle effort to tie Piercy and earn a spot in Saturday’s final twosome. Piercy later pulled a shot ahead with a birdie at the ninth, his final hole of the day.

Koepka has officially won four PGA Tour events, but three of those are majors (2017, ’18 U.S. Open; 2018 PGA). His lone non-major win was the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

He can still reach world No. 1 with a solo second place, assuming Justin Thomas, currently world No. 4, doesn’t win this week.

That will take a mighty weekend effort by the defending champ.

Thomas also eagled the 18th hole to go from 1 over to 1 under. He shot 2-under 70 in the second round and is seven shots off the lead.

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'Go in'? Yes, JT wants an ace at the par-4 14th

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 5:11 am

Justin Thomas didn’t hesitate after hitting his tee shot on the 353-yard, par-4 14th in Round 2 of the CJ Cup.

“Go in,” he immediately said.

“Please go in,” he added.

Thomas’ tee shot was on a great line, but it landed just short of the green. Surprisingly, it took three more shots for his ball to "go in." After birdies on Nos. 12 and 13, Thomas parred the 14th.

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Watch: Dufner makes six (!) fist pumps after birdie

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 4:53 am

Jason Dufner makes Ben Stein seem like Jonathan Winters. Dufner often looks mighty miserable for someone who plays golf for a living.

But not on Friday at the CJ Cup!

Dufner made a 20-footer for birdie at the 16th hole and “celebrated” with one-two-three-(pause)-four-five-six fist pumps. There could have been more, but the camera cut away.

That was Dufner’s third birdie on the back nine, which offset a triple bogey at the par-3 seventh, en route to an even-par 72. Good times.

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Watch: Paul C-ace-y makes hole-in-one at CJ Cup

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 2:35 am

Par-par-par-par-par-par. It was a boring second round over the first six holes for Paul Casey at the CJ Cup.

And then he aced the par-3 seventh.

Casey's tee shot from 176 tracked straight towards the hole and rolled in near the final revolution. That got him to 2 under par for the tournament. He was five off the lead, held by Chez Reavie, but bogeyed the ninth and 10th holes to give back those two strokes.

Hey, it's a no-cut event and a guaranteed paycheck. Drinks on Casey!