Park’s double major start a rarity
Inbee Park entered rare air last week when she won the Wegmans LPGA Championship. The South Korean has now won the first two legs of the Grand Slam, only the eighth player in LPGA history to win the first two events. Only two players have won every major played during a calendar year – Babe Zaharias in 1950 (three) and Sandra Haynie in 1974 (two).
On the PGA Tour, only five players have won the first two professional majors of the year (Masters and U.S. Open) – Craig Wood in 1941, Ben Hogan in 1951 and 1953, Arnold Palmer in 1960, Jack Nicklaus in 1972 and Tiger Woods in 2002.
Park’s path to a major sweep is more difficult since the Evian Masters becomes the first major this year. However, Park has experienced great success in the remaining three majors:
U.S. Women’s Open: Park has made seven starts, including a victory in 2008 at Interlachen Country Club in Edina, Minn., and has totaled five top-10s. She finished T4 in 2007, T8 in 2010, T6 in 2011 and T9 last year when she shot 76-75 on the weekend.
Ricoh Women’s British Open: Park finished second last year at Royal Liverpool after shooting a final-round 76. She has two other top-10 finishes and placed T11 in 2007 at The Old Course, the site of this year’s event.
Evian Masters: Park is the defending champion as the tournament in France becomes a major. She shot 17-under last year and shot rounds of 64 and 66. She is riding a string of eight consecutive rounds of par or better in the tournament.
Here’s a look at the other six players to win the first two majors.
1950, Babe Zaharias: The World Golf Hall of Famer captured all three major championships in routes during the LPGA’s first season. She captured the Titleholders in Augusta, Ga., at Augusta Country Club by eight strokes in March, beat Peggy Kirk 5 and 3 to win the Women’s Western Open at Cherry Hills Country Club in Denver in June, and blitzed the U.S. Women’s Open field by nine in September at Rolling Hills Country Club in Wichita, Kan.
1955, 1957, Patty Berg: Berg won the Titleholders in March by one stroke and the Western Open by two in June. She pulled the same double in 1957.
1962, Mickey Wright: In 1961-62, Wright won five of the eight majors. She won three in 1961 (except for the second, the Western Open). She won two playoffs to capture the first two events of 1962, beating Ruth Jessen to win the Titleholders in April and Mary Lean Faulk to take the Western Open in May.
1974, Sandra Haynie: Haynie won the only two majors in 1974, the LPGA Championship in June and the U.S. Women’s Open in July. The Kraft Nabisco and the Peter Jackson Ladies Classic were both played that year but neither was designated as a major yet.
1986. Pat Bradley: Bradley won the Kraft Nabisco and the LPGA Championship and then captured the du Maurier Classic, the last of the four majors, later in the year.
2005, Annika Sorenstam: Sorenstam won the Kraft Nabisco by eight and the LPGA Championship by three to begin her season.
Catriona Matthew: One for the ages
Catriona Matthew came close to becoming one of the oldest major championship winners when she finished second in a playoff to Inbee Park at last week’s Wegmans LPGA Championship.
Matthew’s mind was also on her family back in Scotland, as it usually is when the 19-year veteran travels to the United States.
“There’s nothing worse than being away and then missing a cut makes it feel like you shouldn’t have left,” Matthew said. “I haven’t played particularly well the last couple of weeks. So yeah, obviously a good week this week makes it a bit more worthwhile.
“My youngest one keeps telling me not to come home unless I get a trophy. So I’m getting closer. She’s a hard task master.”
Matthew lives in North Berwick, Scotland with husband Graeme Matthew and daughters Katie, 6, and Sophie, 4. She flew back to Scotland on Monday and will return for the Northwest Arkansas Championship and the U.S. Women’s Open. Graeme used to caddie for Matthew, but now stays home more often.
“It’s difficult,” Matthew said. “My husband is staying at home more now. They’re older. I suppose it’s just what we do. I suppose everyone just gets used to it.”
Matthew, 43, would have been the second-oldest major championship winner with a victory last week. Fay Crocker won the 1960 Titleholders Championship in Augusta, Ga., at age 45. Here are some “oldest to” records on the LPGA:
Oldest first-time winner
Fay Crocker, 1955 Serbin Open at 40 years, 6 months, 18 days
Kim Saiki, 2004 Wegmans Rochester LPGA at 38 years, 5 months, 3 days
Cindy Figg-Currier, 1997 State Farm Rail Classic at 37 years, 6 months, 8 days
Beth Daniel, 2003 BMO Financial Group Canadian Women’s Open at 46 years, 8 months, 29 days
JoAnne Carner, 1985 SAFECO Classic at 46 years, 5 months, 11 days
Betsy King, 2001 LPGA Corning Classic at 45 years, 10 months, 18 days
Oldest to win a major
Fay Crocker, 1960 Titleholders Championship at 45 years, 7 months, 11 days
Sherri Steinhauer, 2006 Weetabix Women’s British Open at 43 years, 7 months, 10 days
Babe Zaharias, 1954 U.S. Women’s Open at 43 years, 7 days
Juli Inkster, 2002 U.S. Women’s Open at 42 years, 13 days
The Evian’s major move
The Evian will become the LPGA Tour’s fifth major championship later this year. It will mark the first time that the LPGA Tour has had a fifth major in one season. Here’s list of LPGA Tour major championships over the years:
|Kraft Nabisco Championship||1983-current|
|Wegmans LPGA Championship||1955-current|
|U.S. Women’s Open||1950-current|
|Ricoh Women’s British Open||2001-current|
|du Maurier Classic||1979-2000|
|Titleholders||1937-42, 46-66, 1972|
|Women’s Western Open||1930-67|
Chella Choi started the Wegmans LPGA Championship with a front-nine 30 and finished with a 67. That included all 14 fairways it in regulation and 15 greens. … The next tournament is the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship June 21-23.