Park tees up for record

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT -

Korean golfer In­bee Park is on the brink of a re­mark­able sports achieve­ment, though few re­alise it.

Park, 25, has won all three women’s golf ma­jors this year – the Kraft Nabisco, the LPGA and the US Open.

Next week­end she lines up for the Bri­tish Open at St An­drews. Vic­tory there would make her the first fe­male golfer to win four ma­jors in a year.

A year ago Park was 26th in the world and trailed a dozen of her countrywomen in the rank­ings, so she has made dizzy progress.

The women’s pro golf scene is not as high-pro­file as the men’s, but Park’s dom­i­nance this year still makes her a su­per­star.

Women’s pro golf has taken for­ever to get it­self or­gan­ised, and it’s not quite there yet.

Men’s golf world rank­ings were in­tro­duced in 1986 (still in­or­di­nately late com­pared to ten­nis, which was pro­duc­ing world com­puter rank­ings by 1973), but the women didn’t get rank­ings un­til 2006.

Not only that, but the women’s ma­jors have been fluid.

In men’s golf, the Masters, the US Open, the Bri­tish Open and the PGA Cham­pi­onship have been the four ma­jors since 1934.

In women’s golf, there have been as few as two ma­jors in some years. This year there will be five, with the ad­di­tion of the Evian Cham­pi­onship in France in Septem­ber. That’s surely one too many.

The mud­dled his­tory of women’s ma­jors – eight events have had ma­jor sta­tus at one time or an­other – has en­cour­aged golf fol­low­ers to dis­re­gard the women’s scene. That’s a pity. There have been some fan­tas­tic women’s golfers. Babe Za­harias, a mul­ti­ple Olympic ath­let­ics gold medal­list in 1932, won all three ma­jors played in 1950. In 1974, San­dra Haynie won both the ma­jors played that year.

Pat Bradley, Juli Inkster, An­nika Soren­stam, Louise Suggs and Mickey Wright have all won four dif­fer­ent ma­jors. Aus­tralian Kar­rie Webb has won five.

Though Patty Berg won 15 ma­jors and Wright 13, Soren­stam is re­garded as the great­est women’s golfer.

The Swede emerged in 1994 and was the world’s best player for the next decade.

At times she jos­tled with Webb and Korean Se-Ri Pak for ma­jors hon­ours, as Jack Nick­laus bat­tled it out with Gary Player and Arnold Palmer when they were the big three of the men’s game.

Af­ter Soren­stam’s re­tire­ment, Mex­i­can Lorena Ochoa ruled women’s golf from 2007 to 2010, and then Tai­wanese Yani Tseng and Stacy Lewis.

But Park is a class apart now, the undis­puted queen of golf.

She turned pro in 2006 and caught ev­ery­one’s at­ten­tion by win­ning the US Open in 2008. There­after her game de­clined and she strug­gled to get in­side the world’s top 20.

This year she’s turned it all around.

Her putting makes her spe­cial.

She isn’t a great driver, but is proof of the tru­ism, ‘‘Drive for show, putt for dough’’.

Putting is where the best pros get the job done.

World golf lately has been full of the ex­ploits of Adam Scott, Justin Rose and Phil Mick­el­son, and tales of Rory McIl­roy’s demise and Tiger Woods’ strug­gle to win an­other ma­jor.

It’s time to take a breather from men’s golf for a few days and sa­lute a gi­ant of the women’s game.

Photo: GETTY

Third ti­tle: In­bee Park cel­e­brates her third ma­jor ti­tle of the year af­ter win­ning the US Open.

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