by Jeff Skinner
“I just hope this is not a dream.” Those were Inbee Park’s first words when she sat down in her post victory press conference at the 68th U.S. Women’s Open. But this is what dreams are made of. The affable South Korean played an amazing week of golf to claim her third straight major of the season.
Park’s putter proved to be one of the major factors in her fifth win of the year on greens that frustrated many women this week. This was Park’s second U.S. Open win, the first coming in 2008 when she was just nineteen and the youngest ever to win the Women’s Open.
In both tournaments she finished second in the field in putts per round. She used her putter as well as her mind to master a Sebonack course that tested everyone in the field. Park was unflappable all week and never let a difficult setup or complicated greens faze her at all.
Park duplicated the feat (first 3 majors of the season) that Babe Zaharias completed in 1950. Zaharias was acknowledged to be the greatest female athlete of all time as she not only won golf tournaments but Olympic track and field gold medals. Park won’t be competing in any track events but that just means she’ll have more time to win golf tournaments and the pressure is just starting to build.
No golfer, man or woman has won four professional majors in a single season. Not Bobby Jones, his were two professional opens and two amateurs. Not Ben Hogan, he won three, The Masters and U.S. & British Opens. And not Tiger Woods, his “Tiger Slam” consisted of three majors in 2000 and one in 2001.
Park will have the opportunity to win her fourth straight next month at the Old Course in St. Andrews. Historically, the Women’s British Open would end the major season and complete the Grand Slam season. But the LPGA, needing to lure sponsors and their dollars, have named the Evian Masters as their “fifth” major this season. But to the traditionalists and Park herself, four majors constitutes the Grand Slam. “So it would be great if I could win five, but I still think four means a grand slam. I think four out of five is very big.”
Oh yes, four out of five would be very big indeed.