Following British Open win Park Inbee says she’s learned from failure

August 4, 2015
South Korean golfer Park In-bee, ranked No. 1 in the world, waves to the crowd at Incheon International Airport on Aug. 4, 2015, after returning from her Women's British Open Victory. (Yonhap)

South Korean golfer Park In-bee, ranked No. 1 in the world, waves to the crowd at Incheon International Airport on Aug. 4, 2015, after returning from her Women’s British Open Victory. (Yonhap)

INCHEON, Aug. 4 (Yonhap) — Fresh off a monumental major victory on the LPGA Tour, South Korean star Park Inbee said Tuesday she has learned from her past mistakes.

Park made a triumphant return home after winning the Ricoh Women’s British Open in Turnberry, Scotland, last Sunday, to complete a career grand slam. She is just the seventh LPGA player to win four different majors.

After getting a hero’s welcome at Incheon International Airport, Park said she still couldn’t find words to express her joy.

“Even after I won, it didn’t really hit me,” she told reporters. “Then on my way here, I began thinking about all the people who would be out here to greet me, and that’s when the victory dawned on me. I have so many people to thank.”

The world No. 1 is scheduled to compete in a Korean LPGA (KLPGA) event this week on Jeju Island. Park said she’d often won overseas before coming home for events and added, “I am looking forward to playing before South Korean fans for the first time in a while.”

Park had finished in the top 10 at four of the past five Women’s British Opens before finally winning it all in 2015. In 2013, Park won the season’s first three majors and entered the British Open with a shot at becoming the first LPGA player to win four consecutive majors in one season. She ended in a tie for 42nd instead.

Last year, Park opened the final round with a one-stroke lead but ended in fourth place after committing six bogeys and one double bogey en route to a 77. She later called it “probably the most disappointing tournament” of her career.

Park said those two misses fueled her drive for the championship this year.

“In 2013, I learned that I must stay patient and never give up until the end,” she added. “Last year, I learned that I must not be too greedy.”

Long known as a solid putter, Park credited her short stick with helping her win the recent major. In the final round at Turnberry, she needed just 24 putts for a seven-under 65, which included seven birdies and one eagle.

“Putting may seem to be the easiest part of golf, but it’s actually the most difficult aspect,” she said. “The most important thing is to have the confidence that you can make putts. During the fourth round, I felt like I could make every putt. I hadn’t had such a sensation in about two years.”

Park is just as famous for her stoic nature on the course. She hardly changes her facial expressions during a round, and it’s just business as usual, whether she makes a bogey or picks up an eagle.

It has earned her the moniker “Silent Assassin.” She said the violent-sounding nickname suits her just fine.

“I think it means that I am a charismatic player and that when others see my name on the leaderboard, they will start feeling the pressure,” she said. “So I see it as something positive.”

Park said her first British Open victory came earlier than expected, and with that monkey off her back, she finds herself searching for new career goals.

“Honestly, I thought it’d take another two to three years before I could win this championship,” she said. “I don’t know what I should try to accomplish next. There have been a lot of legends in golf, and I have a long ways to go.”

There’s a twist to Park’s feat: Since 2013, the LPGA Tour has had five majors, with the Evian Masters being elevated to the fifth major as the Evian Championship. Because Park has yet to win that major, some say her Women’s British Open victory hasn’t yet completed the career slam.

Nonetheless, the LPGA Tour recognizes Park’s accomplishment as a career grand slam. Winning five different majors will constitute a “super slam,” according to the tour.

Park can end any lingering debate by winning the Evian Championship next month in France. It will make her just the second player with five different major titles, after Karrie Webb.

Park said she won’t get too caught up with trying to win the Evian Championship. She won the event in 2012, the year before it became a major.

“The tournament has been held on the same course (in France), and my name is etched into the trophy at home,” she said. “Obviously, it’d be nice to win it one more time now that it’s become a major.”

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