Park Inbee leads the way at Lorena Ochoa Invitational

November 12, 2015
(AP Photo)

Park Inbee of South Korea (AP Photo)

By Brian Han

When Park Inbee drained a 15-footer on the 18th for a birdie and the outright lead, she barely smiled.

No fist pump, no wave, just a deliberately slow walk to the hole letting the rest of the field know that the only things on her mind are the next 54 holes.

She topped the leaderboard after a 4-under 68 on Thursday’s opening round at the Lorena Ochoa Invitiational in Mexico.

The South Korean veteran started her round on a tear by nabbing four birdies in the first five holes. It was almost as if she still had something left to prove even after nine years of dominant play as a professional.

It could be that she’s trying to make a last ditch effort to catch up to Lydia Ko to whom she seems to be second in almost every major statistical category for the 2015 LPGA Tour season.

The 18-year-old Korean New Zealander leads in earnings, world rankings, scoring average, Player of the Year and CME Globe points.

Park is literally second in every single one of those categories, which pretty much leaves no argument as to who the better player is at the moment.

Or maybe she didn’t smile because she thought she could have played better. Her seven hard-earned birdies were offset by three bogeys.

More players shot over par than under despite fairly tame conditions at the Club de Golf Mexico course, which speaks more to the difficulty of the layout.

Rookie of the Year Kim Sei-young put together a 1-over 73. So did world No. 4 Lexi Thompson and defending champion Christina Kim.

South Korean born Australian Minjee Lee crafted a solid 3-under 69 to tie for second with Suzann Pettersen and Angela Stanford.

Lydia Ko decided to take the week off from competition and will return in the season’s last event, the CME Group Tour Championship, where she will defend her title.