The Great Inbee Park
[John Mummert, USGA]
Inbee Park is poised to win the US Women’s Open golf championship tomorrow and make history. Alas, few are paying attention. I went to the NYT sports section online and couldn’t even find an article about it, despite the tournament being played in Southampton. There’s an AP article, here, which will turn up in a search. And unlike most women’s golf tournaments, whose broadcasts are relegated to the Golf Channel or invisible altogether, this one is on NBC. Yet, there’s little coverage.
We have had the great fortune over the last fifteen years to have a succession of great players on the women’s tour: Annika Sorenstam, Karrie Webb, Se Ri Pak, Julie Inkster. Since Sorenstam’s retirement, Lorena Ochoa and Yani Tseng. And now Inbee Park.
Park was the surprise winner of the US Open in 2008 at the age of 19. Her promise went unfulfilled for several years. But for the last year she has dominated. This season, she has ascended to a rare level of excellence, having won the year’s first two majors, the Kraft Nabisco and the LPGA, and three other tournaments.
No tournament is as prized in women’s golf as the US Open, which she now has firmly in her grasp. Through three rounds, she is ten under par, four strokes ahead of I.K. Kim, seven ahead of Jodi Ewart Shadoff, and nine or more ahead of the rest of the field.
Only Inbee has shot under par in all three rounds. Only Inbee shot under par today, an extraordinary demonstration of rising to the occasion, despite the pressure of trying to win the Open and the parallel pressure of making history.
What history? From the AP article:
A win on Sunday would give Park:
Four major championships, when you add her 2008 U.S. Women’s Open victory to the three she will have won this year. With four majors, Park would join a sorority that includes Americans Susie Maxwell Berning, Donna Caponi, Sandra Haynie, Meg Mallon and Hollis Stacy, and Laura Davies of England. Only 15 players in history have won more than four.
Wins in the first three majors of 2013, making her the second player in LPGA Tour history to win the first three majors in a season. In 1950, Mildred (Babe) Didrikson Zaharias won all three majors played that year – the Titleholders Championship, the Women’s Western Open and the U.S. Women’s Open.
Three majors in a season, making her one of four women to win three majors in a calendar year, joining Zaharias (1950), Mickey Wright (1961) and Pat Bradley (1986).
Women’s golf struggles for attention. Tomorrow would be a good day to change that. Watch Inbee play. Watch as she shows us how the greats do it.