After a myriad of injuries, former World No. 1 Inbee Park is primed to make her LPGA Tour return at the HSBC Women’s World Championship, where she is the defending champion.
Park, who hasn’t played since the Ricoh Women’s British Open last July, played a few events in South Korea in the Fall to get the competitive juices flowing again, but says she’s excited to start her 2018 LPGA Tour season at the event in Singapore which has been very special to her.
The 29-year-old won the HSBC Women’s World Championship in 2015, in the midst of a five-win season, which acted as a springboard to her being eligible for the LPGA Hall of Fame, an achievement she garnered in early 2016.
At 27, she became the youngest person to qualify.
But despite all the accolades, victories, and seemingly endless positive results, Park says she wants more.
Park tells LPGA.com her goal for 2018 is to get back in the winner’s circle at a major championship. Although she has won seven already – including two in 2015 – she hasn’t won another since that season.
“I’m more than determined to do so this year,” she says.
Park admits she is feeling better now, after a long recovery process last year. She says she is “close to 100 percent” and is currently pain-free.
The break she took throughout the balance of last year as well as throughout most of 2016 helped her to recover and boost her energy level after a whirlwind start to her professional career.
In 2016 Park hurt her left thumb, which resulted in her withdrawing from three events and finishing her LPGA Tour season in June after missing the cut at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. She did, however, capture the gold medal at the Olympic games that summer in Brazil after spending time rehabbing.
She battled a minor back problem for most of 2017, but she says it was something she had always dealt with since turning professional.
“It was not too serious, but I wanted to be careful so I took a couple months off,” she says.
Despite the few appearances on the Korean LPGA Tour in the fall, Park says it was nice to take a few months off – the longest stretch of time she’s ever taken in her professional career, just to reset physically.
She was able to stay home with her family for the most part, which she enjoyed. She also marched in the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in her native South Korea in early February, saying it was an “unbelievable moment.”
"I was never able to witness the Winter Olympics, and especially being held in my home country the emotion was electrifying,” she exclaimed. “Words really cannot describe how the overall experience meant to me. I never thought there'd be a moment where I was going to be a part of the opening ceremony, and this truly is a once in a lifetime moment for me that I will always remember."
The opportunity to see family and friends at home in South Korea is rare, she says, but, she’s excited to get back to traveling and playing on the LPGA Tour again, especially to compete against her countrywomen.
Nine golfers from South Korea won on the LPGA Tour in 2017, including Rookie of the Year sensation Sung Hyun Park. She says she’s happy to see them doing well, despite the fierce competition on the LPGA Tour. Rookie Jin Young Ko captured the second event of the year – the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.
“We give each other great motivation to really push ourselves, and it seems like we improve every year which is hard to believe,” she says.
Park will start her 2018 LPGA Tour season at 17th in the Rolex Rankings. The HSBC Women’s Champions begins March 1st.