Park eyes US Women’s Open, 20 years on from Pak
MIAMI – Agence France-Presse
World number one Park In-bee will take a low-key approach to the women’s U.S. Open on May31 as she aims to cement the legacy of compatriot Pak Se-ri with her eighth major title.
Twenty years ago, Pak blazed a trail for Korean golfers when she stormed to victory in the 1998 U.S. Open, a spectacular triumph that encouraged many of her compatriots to take up the sport.
“Back in ‘98, I was really just a kid,” Park said May 29. “My dad was really a big fan of golf. He was watching golf and watching Se-ri play. I remember my dad getting really excited very early in the morning.
“After that there was a big golf boom in Korea and a lot of the girls my age were starting to play golf. I was one of them.”
In 1998, Pak was the sole South Korean golfer plying her trade on the LPGA Tour. There are now more than 50 Korean players on the LPGA, and last year Korean women picked up three of the five majors on offer.
The last 12 majors have been won by 12 different players, highlighting the depth of the women’s game and the LPGA Tour.
“Coming into the major, there is a lot of notable players that haven’t won this year and they are looking to win,” Park said.
“[On the LPGA Tour] You don’t see the same players every week up on the leaderboard. You see some kind of different levels of players, a variety of players on the leaderboard.”
One of the biggest challenges to Park’s hopes could come from Lexi Thompson. The world number three’s long game could give her a crucial edge this week on a course which has been drenched with rain.
“I would say definitely it’s an advantage to be longer,” Thompson acknowledged. “The course is playing very long.”