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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Inbee Park quietly reclaims world No. 1

By Randall MellApril 23, 2018, 6:44 pm

Inbee Park moved back to No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings in about as ho-hum fashion as you’ll ever see a player take the top spot.

It isn’t that she doesn’t care about the top ranking. It just wasn’t a priority in her return to golf this year, after missing big portions of the last two years with injuries.

With an Olympic gold medal and seven major championship titles, the LPGA Hall of Famer isn’t done trying to top the scoreboards that matter most to her.

“To be honest, I never really think about being No. 1 again,” Park said early last week, before tying for second at the Hugel-JTBC LA Open. “If it comes to me, great. If not, it doesn't matter.”

It came to her for the fourth time in her career.

Park, 29, reigned at No. 1 for 59 weeks in her longest run on top, back in the 2013 and ’14 seasons.

Oddly, this run to No. 1 almost comes as a surprise to Park, who didn’t need long to get back to the top spot after returning to the tour. She won the Bank of Hope Founders Cup last month in her second after missing seven months with a back injury.

Park last lost the No. 1 ranking in October of 2015, doing so to Lydia Ko.

In six starts this year, Park has finished T-3 or better four times. She leads the tour in scoring average (69.13) and is second in greens in regulation (77.5 percent).

Just wait until her putter heats up.

Yeah, Park’s not very satisfied with her putting. She’s one of the greatest putters who ever played the women’s game, but she has been frustrated with the inconsistency of her stroke much of this season. Of course, her standards are high. She ranks second in putts per greens in regulation so far this year.

On Sunday, this is how Park summed up her putting in 2018: “Some days, I’ve been really good. Some days, I’ve been really bad.”

Park has led the LPGA in putts per GIR in five of the last 10 years. She switched from her preferred mallet-style putter to a blade earlier this season and won with a Toulon Madison blade at the Founders Cup last month. She was back with an Odyssey White Hot 2-Ball mallet this past week. That’s the putter she used to win the gold medal in Rio de Janeiro two years ago. She used an Odyssey Sabertooth winged mallet in her 2013 run of three consecutive major championship victories.

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Goose takes down junior golfer - it's awesome

By Nick MentaApril 23, 2018, 6:33 pm

A goose evidently went into business for itself somewhere in Michigan and took down this high school golfer in dramatic, hilarious, photographed fashion. To the evidence we go ...

Per the Blissfield Athletics Twitter account, "The golfers just finished teeing off and were walking down the fairway. To the left there was a goose nest and the golfers did a good job of avoiding it but the guard goose hanging out on the far right thought differently."

Just so we can all continue laughing, the Blissfield account confirmed the kid was OK.

If you're looking for related content, check out Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" and this video:

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It's official: Charles Schwab to sponsor Colonial event

By Associated PressApril 23, 2018, 6:30 pm

FORT WORTH, Texas – The longest-running PGA Tour event still played at its original site has a new title sponsor, one already deeply involved in golf.

The PGA Tour and Colonial Country Club announced Monday that financial services provider Charles Schwab & Co. will take over as title sponsor starting in 2019. The four-year agreement goes through 2022.

Local companies are backing the event after upscale grocer Dean and Deluca withdrew as title sponsor after only two tournaments of a six-year deal. The companies include American Airlines, AT&T, XTO Energy and Burlington Northern Santa Fe railway.

Charles Schwab is already a major sponsor on the PGA Tour. On the PGA Tour Champions, the Charles Schwab Cup is awarded to the season's top player.

Next month's tournament at Colonial, which has hosted since 1946, will be played as the Fort Worth Invitational.

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Rando withdraws name from Ryder Cup consideration

By Nick MentaApril 23, 2018, 6:11 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - In a legitimately unexpected move, Stephen Atkinson has removed his name from Ryder Cup consideration, according to a letter leaked by European captain Thomas Bjorn on Monday.

Atkinson, the 52,187th-ranked player in the world and recent winner of the West Hill monthly medal, penned the following letter to Bjorn, removing his name from consideration for September's biennial matches.

Atkinson, who also serves as the Captain of the Babalou Golf Society, immediately squashed speculation that he could instead serve as a vice captain - as Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia have in the past - writing that any such suggestion would be "unfair to both the society and the Ryder Cup team."

The decision leaves Bjorn potentially shorthanded and also appears to have sent him into some sort of existential malaise, the severity of which is not yet known.

Atkinson joins P.J. Willett and Central Standard Time in the Hall of Fame of off-course distractions for a European squad that hasn't lost on its home soil in 25 years.