Inbee Park Completes the Slam

TURNBERRY, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 02:  Inbee Park of South Korea poses with the trophy following her victory during the Final Round of the Ricoh Women's British Open at Turnberry Golf Club on August 2, 2015 in Turnberry, Scotland.  (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

Inbee Park with her British Women’s Open Trophy following her win at Turnberry

Even though she has now won seven majors in total, this win at Turnberry was her sixth major win in her last 14 major starts. The win also meant she completed the Grand Slam of women’s golf. These are incredible statistics and ones that put the South Korean among the world’s greatest golfers of all time. Only Tiger Woods and Mary Kathryn (Mickey) Wright had won seven majors by the same age; 27 years.

After putting up with fierce winds and lashing rain, as well as the sunshine that accompanies Scotland’s “four seasons in one day” golfing experience, one wonders what wining on a genuine links layout means to the South Korean.

“It feels great to finally hold the British Open trophy. I gave it a few cracks and it’s just been so hard. This is the birthplace of golf. Scotland is where golf started and this feels like real golf. This is definitely the golfer’s most wanted trophy. I set only one goal this year, one and only, and that’s winning the British Open. Achieving it feels great. This is the greatest day of my life, for sure.”

Asked about playing in such harsh conditions, she responded, “When the rain was pouring down, when the wind was blowing, when my 5-iron only went 100 yards, I just felt so bad. I wanted to give in, but you can’t give in. I said to myself: I can’t really push to achieve the career Grand Slam. I was really close and couldn’t wrap it up. I had to get myself out of Grand Slam thinking, and playing without expectations really helped this week.”

Park, starting the final round three off the lead, reeled off seven birdies and an eagle to equal the course record. She was four behind fellow South Korean, Jin Young Ko, with 12 holes remaining. It was here that Park applied the pressure on her young countrywoman, by birdieing the next four holes followed by an eagle at 14. The 20 year-old rookie, playing in her first major, three-putted the 13th and double bogied the 16th, opening the way for Park to win by three shots.

Park finished on 12-under par, three shots clear of Jin Young Ko at 9-under. In third equal, one shot back at 8-under, were Lydia Ko and So Yeon Ryu. Interestingly, three of the top four finishers are from South Korea. The only one who isn’t is Lydia Ko; the 18 year-old world number 2 who hails from New Zealand. But she didn’t arrive in her adopted country until she was four years old. One guess as to where she was born?

Much has been written about why women with South Korean origins dominate the LPGA. And why, given such dominance in the women’s game, don’t South Korean Men feature more on their professional circuit? One huge reason: Compulsory Military Training.

One person who successfully avoided his military call-up during the Vietnam War era was that well-known celebrity of modesty and self-effacement; Donald Trump. The owner of this year’s host of the British Women’s Open, Turnberry Links, arrived by helicopter at the course as the event was well into its first round.

The multi-bankrupted billionaire, who is leading the polls for GOP nomination for next year’s US Presidential election, has been hogging the headlines with some outrageous statements of late, including labelling Mexicans as rapists, thieves and whatever else adds to – in his view – their undesirable status.

Among his more memorable quotes given at his press conference upon arrival were:

“A poll came out two days ago where I am number one with the Hispanics.”

“Everybody has asked me to be here. The world has asked me to be here.”

“Don’t know who she is.”

This last was in response to stated disapproval at Trump’s presence from top-30 world-ranked player Lizette Salas, who has Mexican parents. This alleged ignorance came in spite of claiming to be a big fan and follower of the women’s golf game.

When asked of his chances of winning the race to the White House?

“I expect to be President.”

Californian Salas wouldn’t be the only one to express displeasure at the Donald’s presence.

While Inbee Park was winning on Scotland’s West Coast, another Asian, Thai Kiradech Aphibarnrat, was showing his growing credentials by winning on Scotland’s East Coast. The Murcar Links at Aberdeen played host to Paul Lawrie’s European Tour sanctioned match-play event.

golfnutter - women's open british two

Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat with his European Tour match play trophy

Asia’s answer to John Daly, in more ways than one, beat Swede and former European number one, Robert Karlsson, one-up in a closely contested final by birdieing the last.

With this win, Aphibarnrat becomes: the first Thai player to win a European Tour event in Scotland and only the second player from Thailand to win a European Tour event on British soil, following Thongchai Jaidee at the 2012 ISPS Handa Wales Open.

He continues with his stunning 2015 European Tour season. This victory is his fifth top five finish from 17 events to date. In addition to winning the Shenzhen International and the Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Match Play, he tied fourth in the True Thailand Classic at Black Mountain, tied fourth in the BMW International Open and fifth in the Nedbank Golf Challenge. Aphibarnrat, with five, now moves alongside Bernd Wiesberger and David Howell for the most top five finishes on this season’s European Tour.

Next up; the PGA Championship starting 13 August.


About golfnutter

Born in Wellington, New Zealand over 60 years ago. Introduced to golf - Thailand style - in 2004 and never recovered. I believe Thailand, Pattaya particularly, offers a unique and wonderful golfing experience for all golfers, whatever their handicap. If I can help embellish that experience, I will.
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