Inbee Park’s streak continues to impress
From the hard-to-believe category: Just a couple years ago, Inbee Park had lost confidence in her game and contemplated playing elsewhere. Even after winning the 2008 U.S. Women’s Open at age 19, finding consistency on the LPGA was Park’s weakness.
“I wasn't playing good on the LPGA Tour after the win in the U.S. Open,” Park said winning the Evian Masters earlier this year. “After that I was just trying to find a place that I felt more comfortable. But I was never going to give up the LPGA. The more I played over in Japan, the more I was getting confidence over there. Playing over here with that confidence helped me a lot.”
After eight non top-10 finishes to begin this season – with a best finish of T12 – Park has exploded to move to the top of the LPGA in earnings and to second in the Rolex Player of the Year standings. You could also include the Japan Women’s Open two weeks ago where Park finished one stroke behind winner Shanshan Feng.
The South Korean has vast experience playing in the United States, as her family relocated to Las Vegas where she won multiple Nevada high school championships and enrolled briefly at UNLV. This week, she returns to South Korea seeking a first LPGA victory in her home country.
Here are some statistics to document her recent run:
- Among her top-10s was a second at the CN Canadian Women’s Open where she earned first-place money of $300,000 when 15-year-old amateur Lydia Ko won the tournament.
- Park’s victories at the Evian Masters and Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia were her second and third career LPGA wins and marked the first time in her career where she has won twice in a season.
- Of Park’s $1,954,608 earnings this season, 93 percent has been accumulated during the 10-tournament streak.
- Of the 38 rounds in the streak, 35 have been at par or better and 22 have been in the 60s.
Here is a look at Park’s 10-tournament record, beginning in early June with a T9 at the Wegmans LPGA Championship and continuing through last week’s victory at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia.
|Wegmans LPGA Championship||T9||72-70-72-72—286||$51,742|
|Manulife Financial LPGA Classic||T2||69-64-66-69—268||$90,231|
|Walmart NW Arkansas Championship||T4||67-68-68—203||$93,770|
|U.S. Women's Open||T9||71-70-76-75—292||$72,596|
|Jamie Farr Toledo Classic||T3||69-65-69-69—272||$77,045|
|CN Canadian Women's Open||2||68-71-70-69—278||$300,000|
|Ricoh Women's British Open||2||72-68-72-76—288||$249,668|
|Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia||1||69-68-65-67—269||$285,000|
Lewis retains Rolex lead as Park charges
Stacy Lewis’ lead in the Rolex Player of the Year standings with five tournaments remaining in the season is 40 points, down from 56 points entering last week’s Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia. Her T19 in Kuala Lumpur was her first finish out of the top-10 in the last five starts. Inbee Park’s win moved her from fourth to second.
Rolex Player of the Year points are earned with top-10 finishes in tournaments, ranging from 30 for first place to 1 for 10th. Therefore, Lewis will retain first place for another week no matter what happens in South Korea this week.
A look at the top 10:
|This Week (Points)||Last Week (Points)||Player||Notable|
|1 (184)||1 (184)||Stacy Lewis||T19 last week worst finish since mid-summer|
|2 (144)||4 (114)||Inbee Park||Hottest player on LPGA – 10 straight top-10s|
|3 (128)||2 (128)||Jiyai Shin||Last week’s T38 worst finish of the season|
|4 (120)||3 (120)||Yani Tseng||Hasn’t scored a point in a span of 11 tournaments|
|5 (113)||8 (101)||Na Yeon Choi||Surging player has won this week’s event twice|
|T6 (112)||6 (111)||Ai Miyazato||Last week’s T9 only second top-10 since Walmart win|
|T6 (112)||5 (112)||Shanshan Feng||Four consecutive finishes outside of top 10|
|8 (107)||7 (105)||Mika Miyazato||Nine top-10s this year, including first win|
|9 (104)||9 (98)||So Yeon Ryu||Runaway leader in Rookie of Year standings|
|10 (81)||10 (81)||Sun Young Yoo||Kraft Nabisco winner has four top-10s this year|
Jessica Korda, 19, came through with a final-round 64 at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia to record her second top-10 finish of the season, a solo eighth at 8-under-par 276. The finish in Malaysia were her career-low round, accomplished with birdies on Nos. 2-5 to begin the round and culminated with an eagle on the par-5 16th hole. It was Korda’s sixth round in the 60s this year in 50 rounds played.
Korda won the season-opening ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open in February, soon after receiving on-course advice from Jack Nicklaus. She shot four rounds in the 70s to win a six-player playoff at the difficult Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Victoria, Australia. At age 18, she became the sixth-youngest winner in LPGA history (now seventh after 15-year-old Lydia Ko’s CN Canadian Open win this summer).
Salas’ international success
Lizette Salas had never played golf outside of North America as an LPGA professional until last week’s Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia. But the 23-year-old rookie out of Southern California found great success in Kuala Lumpur, recording a career-best T9 (the first top-10 of her LPGA career).
Salas has gone low in her last two starts, recording six under-par rounds and five in the 60s over the eight rounds where she finished T16 at the Navistar LPGA Classic and the T9 last week. The only thing keeping her from contending for the titles was one poor round at each tournament. She finished with a 74 in Alabama and had a third-round 76 in Malaysia after being three strokes back through 36 holes. She closed with a bogey-free 66. The Malaysia finish came with longtime friend Greg Puga, the 2000 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion and a 2001 Masters Tournament participant, as her caddie.
During a second-round 67 at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia, Salas started the back nine with three consecutive bogeys but countered that with an ace on the par-3 15th hole. She used a 9-iron for her first career LPGA ace.
Sky 72’s big facility
Sky 72 Golf Club’s Ocean Course, the site of this week’s KEB-HanaBank Korean Championship, is the top-ranked course in South Korea. The Jack Nicklaus-designed course has been the site of the LPGA event since 2008. The event was scheduled to begin in 2001 but was canceled because of the terrorist attack on Sept. 11. Previous tournament sites have included The Club at Nine Bridges (2002-5) and Mauna Ocean Golf & Resort (2006-7).
Sky 72 is a 72-hole facility, located in Incheon, that also features the Dream Golf Range, a round-shaped practice range with 300 tee areas. The range was listed in 2006 as the world’s largest all-around practice range by the Guinness Book of Records.
The Ocean Course ends with great drama – the drivable par-4 15th hole, the short par-3 17th hole and the 530-yard par-5 finishing hole that is reachable in two shots.
The new LPGA Driving Accuracy leader is Marcy Hart, a 12-year LPGA veteran, who is averaging hitting 82.7 percent of the fairways. Leta Lindley, an 18-year veteran, is right behind her at 82.4 percent. … Suzann Pettersen, the 2007 winner, is the only non-Asian to win the KEB-HanaBank Championship. The other winners have hailed from South Korea and Taiwan. That includes Taiwanese-American Candie Kung and defending champion Yani Tseng of Taiwan. … Cheyenne Woods will be making her third start on the LPGA in 2012 this week in South Korea. Woods, the niece of Tiger Woods, previously finished T50 at the Evian Masters and missed the cut at the U.S. Women’s Open.
Topics: Stats and Stuff