Can Inbee Park Make History at the 2013 U.S. Women’s Open
As the start of the U.S Women’s Open approaches the eyes of the golfing world are on Inbee Park for an assortment of good reasons. To call her 2013 season remarkable is understating the point.
Park, who won’t celebrate her 25th birthday until July 12, has already won five times in 12 starts on the LPGA Tour in 2013, pocketing more than $1.5 million in the process. In her last 23 starts dating back to last year she’s won seven times.
The Women’s Open has been around since 1946 (it’s been conducted by the USGA since 1953) and resonates with history.
Park comes to Sebonack this week hoping to make some history of her own.
She’s already won the first two majors on the LPGA schedule, the Kraft Nabisco Championship and the Wegmans LPGA Championship. A win this week would make her the first player to win the first three majors in a season since Babe Zaharias in 1950, the LPGA’s inaugural season when there were just three majors, the Women’s Open, the Titleholders, and the Western Open.
In more recent times Pat Bradley won three majors in 2006 but they were not consecutive. Sandra Haynie won the Women’s Open and the LPGA Championship in 1974 when they were the only majors on the schedule.
For her part, Park is more concerned about playing good golf than setting records.
“I won last two weeks,” she says, “and that’s just a lot of emotions, and I’m just going to try to calm down myself a lot and try to play the course.
“I’m sure the course is going to make me concentrate. So I’m really looking forward to playing there and trying not to think about so much of the history or to break somebody’s record.”
The golf course will certainly get the attention of Park, and the other155 players in the field. The Jack Nicklaus/Tom Doak design is listed at 6.796 yards, which on the scorecard makes it the longest Women’s Open course in history. Par is 72.
Off her recent efforts Park is the pre-tournament favorite but nine of the top 10 players in this week’s Rolex rankings, including Park, have won at least one major championship, and it’s our belief that a player who has won a major has a leg up on winning another.
The ability to make putts at critical times matters a lot at a Women’s Open and there is no better than Park with a putter in her hands. There’s also the small matter if her being a past Women’s Open champion .
But she isn’t as long of the tee as some of her peers and the length of the golf course will work against her.
For that reason, Stacy Lewis is our pick to win her first Women’s Open title, followed by Park and Karrie Webb in that order,
There are other players with legitimate championship aspirations. That said, the thought here is that at week’s end the trophy will be hoisted by someone who already knows what it feels like to win a major championship.
Rick Woelfel is the editor and publisher at Womensgolfreport.net. He has covered the LPGA Tour for more than 25 years.