In 2018, Sung Hyun Park achieved her third victory of the season at the Indy Women in Tech Championship, carding her career-best 72-hole total on the LPGA Tour. Park, who comes into this year’s tournament as Rolex Rankings No. 2, is looking to successfully defend a championship for the first time in career and earn her eighth Tour victory. Park said she was surprised when she was asked to kiss the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway bricks, but after learning the tradition, wants the opportunity to do it again.
“I've never been able to defend my title as a defending champion in Korea or in the United States, so I do want to defend it this year, but there is more pressure since people expect me to win,” said Park. “I want try to sort of win over that pressure and feel more comfortable.”
With changes in the 2019 Tour schedule, Park will also defend her title next week at the Volunteers of America Classic. She said even though she has never won twice in a row, she is ready for the challenge.
“Many people do ask me if I won back-to-back last year. But it should be fun this week. Next week will also be different, but I think I'm going to have a lot of fun being a defending champion.”
Park tees off No. 1 at 8:51 a.m. with Lydia Ko and Bronte Law.
THOMPSON LOOKING FOR ANOTHER VICTORY LAP IN INDY
In 2017, Lexi Thompson made history by becoming the first woman in history to kiss the bricks after a victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway; after winning the Indy Women in Tech Championship she participated in the traditional Indianapolis 500 celebration of dousing herself with milk on the Yard of Bricks and finished off her celebration by taking victory laps behind the driver’s seat of a Corvette.
Thompson, who has a win and six top-10 finishes this season, is looking forward to playing for the third straight year at Brickyard Crossing Golf Course where she said she can hit driver on almost every hole and reach a lot of the par-5s.
“It's a great event in general,” Thompson said on Wednesday. “Just the tradition behind it and being able to do that the first year that it was here was very special for me being able to pour the milk on myself, kiss the bricks and then actually go around the track in the Corvette, which is the car I drive. It was an amazing experience. This tournament gets a lot of fans out here to support us and it's just amazing to be here once again.”
While some LPGA players are coming off a three-week break, Thompson played for Team USA in her fourth Solheim Cup before heading to Korea for an exhibition event and then to Indianapolis. While she is not as rested as she might like, the Rolex Rankings No. 3 player said she would not trade her time repping the red, white and blue.
“It's just a great experience anytime you can represent your country and just be around teammates. You know, golf is such an individual sport that we don't get the opportunity to make friendships like the Solheim Cup and just be around each other in that team aspect. It was so much fun. We gained a lot of relationships that week and we just enjoyed it, we really embraced the experience.”
Thompson will tee off the first round off the 10th tee at 1:36 p.m. alongside Shanshan Feng and Charley Hull.
SHEPHERD RETURNS TO HOMETOWN EVENT
Indianapolis native Erica Shepherd arrived at the Brickyard Crossing Golf Course on Wednesday straight from a full day of classes on Tuesday at Duke University. The 18-year-old amateur received a sponsor’s invitation for this week’s Indy Women in Tech Championship after Monday qualifying in the event the past two years.
“The LPGA has been my dream since I was a little girl, so just to have the best players in the world in my hometown and to have been able to play the third year, I think that it's been one of the highlights of my golf career and I think that I'll be so grateful for it the rest of my life,” she said.
With so much experience playing this course growing up, Shepherd likes her chances to improve upon her previous finishes of 72nd (2018) and 77th (2017). Over the summer, Shepherd received a sponsor’s invite to the Marathon LPGA Classic where she went on to record a career-best T35 finish and she said she’s drawing confidence from that result this week.
“I had so much fun that week,” Shepherd said of her time in Ohio. “I actually got into that tournament the Monday before it started, so like the other two times I've played here, it was kind of I wasn't expecting it. But that course kind of reminded me of this course, just good bent greens and I really enjoyed it. Saw the same people that I've seen here the past two years, so it was kind of nice.”
Shepherd tees off No. 10 at 1:47 p.m. with Gerina Piller and Mariah Stackhouse.