Inbee Park Wins RICOH Women’s British Open
For all Inbee Park has accomplished in her remarkable career, her performance at the RICOH Women’s British Open may be her greatest accomplishment of all.
Park came from three shots off the pace in weather that was less than ideal to overtake Jin Young Ko and score a three-shot victory at historic Turnberry.
The numbers Park has put up over the course of her career have been nothing short of remarkable. She has won 16 LPGA tournaments, seven of them major championships
She is also the seventh all-time to complete a Career Grand Slam, which in today’s vernacular requires winning four of the five major championships on the schedule (The Evian has only been a major since 2013). The other six are Louise Suggs, Mickey Wright, Pat Bradley, Juli Inkster, Karrie Webb and Annika Sorenstam.
Her seven majors tie her for the top spot among active players with Inkster and Webb. To put that in perspective, Se Ri Pak, who is essentially semi-retired, is next on the list with five major wins while no other active player has more than two.
And Park just turned 27 last month.
Someone I respect who follows the LPGA Tour closely recently remarked how special it is to see history being made, and they were quite correct. Too often in sports, historical achievements are not fully appreciated until long after the fact.
Park has made a lot of history and is likely to make a lot more in the years ahead.
By rights, she should be exalted to the level of a Spieth or a McIlroy, her achievements celebrated by the most casual of golf fans. But that hasn’t been the case. Part of the reason for this is that Park goes about her business without fanfare much as the late Billy Casper did on the men’s tour during his Hall of Fame career.
And coincidentally, Park and Casper have been celebrated as two of the finest putters of their respective eras.
But in the end, golf at the highest level is not a sideshow but a sporting competition. And Park has embraced an approach that best suits her personality and temperament.
“People seem to think I look effortless,” she says, “but I probably work the same as other people. I put a lot of effort in it too but it seems like I care a little bit less about it and am a little bit
more relaxed. I try to stay relaxed.”
But there is another element in this equation. There is still an element of the golf community that views the LPGA Tour’s sizeable (and successful) Asian contingent with disdain, who would like to a se a return to an era when Americans dominated women’s golf. But that era is over.
Those who truly appreciate the game of golf and revere its history are advised to celebrate Park’s accomplishments. She is already considered the best in her sport today. The view from here is before long and certainly before her career is done she will rank among the best of all time.