The Queen Bee is back.
Inbee Park returns to the LPGA after seven months away feeling rested, recuperated and inspired following another Olympic experience.
Park, 29, will defend her title this week at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in Singapore. She left the tour in August of last year struggling with a back injury.
“I feel good about my body now,” said Park, 29. “So nothing to worry about from that. I’m going to try to play more tournaments.”
Park, who won the Olympic gold medal in women’s golf two years ago, got to see her status as one of South Korea’s most important athletes confirmed earlier this month when she was appointed to carry the Olympic torch into the stadium during the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang in her South Korean homeland.
“It was a great honor,” Park said.
Park played a couple South Korean events last fall, but she hasn’t teed it up in an LPGA event since tying for 11th at the Ricoh Women’s British Open last August. She also missed large portions of 2016 with injuries.
Still, Park has shown a rare ability to win after long layoffs. She won her gold medal after missing two months because of a ligament injury in her left thumb. She spent a month in a cast after the Olympics and didn’t hit a ball for four months. She won in Singapore last year in just her second start after an eight-month layoff.
What’s the secret to her ability to rebound from long layoffs?
“There is no secret,” Park said. “It just happened.”
Park isn’t quite sure what to expect this week.
“It's hard to kind of judge where my game is,” she said. “I'll play four rounds and kind of see where my game is. If the results come, that's great, but I'm trying to just kind of test my game.”
Park tees it up this week at No. 17 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings despite limited play the last two years. The former world No. 1 says she won’t be caught up trying to return to the top of the world rankings, but she would like to add to her seven major championship victories. Only six players have won more than her in the history of women’s golf.
She does, however, have another goal.
“This is my 12th year on tour, but it is still so hard to enjoy golf as long as I'm playing professionally,” Park said. “I've achieved so many things in my resume, but whenever I start my new tournament, whenever I start my round, I feel like there's nothing and I have to start again. Hopefully, I can just enjoy a little bit more the golf and maybe just free my mind a little bit more this year. Yeah, just truly enjoy the professional life would be a big goal.”