“It’s Scary To Think What Else I Can Do”
So said Inbee Park after winning the US Women’s Open at Sebonack GC in Long Island today when she was asked about her future.
This is Park’s third Major Championship win in a row which already puts her in exalted company. The only other female golfer to do this was Babe Didrikson Zaharias in 1950. While Zaharias was certainly an icon, the depths of the fields or quality of opponents do not compare, so what the 24 year old South Korean is doing is truly extraordinary. More than that, it is historic.
Park’s only real challenge over the final 36 holes came from her long- time friend and rival, I.K. Kim, with whom Park has been playing against since they were twelve years old. The last time that Kim was on Golf’s center stage was when she missed a one foot putt on the final hole of the 2012 Kraft Nabisco Championship and then lost the ensuing playoff. Kim has put those ghosts to rest nicely and probably hit the ball from tee to green better than anyone this week including Park, but Park’s putting would prove vastly superior. Kim made three bogeys in a four hole stretch on Sunday’s front 9 though, which would turn the Open into a very Closed event.
To give this win some perspective consider the following:
-There are only 15 women players who have won more than 4 Major Championships in their career. This was Park’s fourth.
-This is her sixth win of the 2013 season in 15 events on the LPGA Tour. For good measure Park has finished second three other times.
-Only three players finished the tournamnet under par. Park won by four shots over Kim and was 8-under par after her closing 74. A rare co-design by Jack Nicklaus and Tom Doak created what is an instant masterpiece at Sebonack. It is a pure links style course that tests every part of players’ game and nerve and will hopefully be the host course for many Major Championships in the passage of time. Not only did Park post the best score but she thought her way around Sebonack better than anyone else. There are a host of very talented players but when you combine talent with brains, you have an unfair advantage.
-There seems to be a prevailing sentiment amongst the other payers (although they are loath to admit this publicly) that Park “can’t be beaten”. When a player gets to that rarified air, everybody else better bring an oxygen mask.
-Park is on the verge of doing something that nobody has ever done before in professional golf. If she wins the next Major at St. Andrews, she will become the first professional, male or female, to win 4 consecutive Majors in the same year. St. Andrews has a habit of being the venue for the best player in the world at the time, to win on its hallowed ground.
As we have already documented, Park’s swing is unorthodox at best. In this vein (see-different) it is similar to Trevino, Furyk, Palmer or even Sorenstam, but it works for her and this is the most crucial element of what she is doing. She plays her game; her way, and right now, there is nobody ‘Parked’, even close.