Chasing golf history

The most dominating athlete in 2013 is South Korea’s Inbee Park on the Ladies Professional Golfers’ Association tour.

Bruce Penton

Sports columnist

 

 

The most dominating athlete in 2013 anywhere in the world — any sport — is South Korea’s Inbee Park on the Ladies Professional Golfers’ Association tour.

In early August, at the Old Course at St. Andrew’s Scotland, Park will go for golfing history when she attempts to win her fourth consecutive major championship, the 2013 women’s British Open.

Park had one major to her credit going into 2013 (she won the 2008 U.S. Open). But this year, she has stepped above the crowd and is becoming a household name among those who follow golf, and is even getting recognition from mainstream (non-golf) media outlets.

Winning three tournaments in a row is amazing. Winning three majors in a row is almost unprecedented on the LPGA circuit. You may have heard of Tiger Woods, who won four straight men’s majors over two years and got a little bit of publicity as a result. The only other woman golfer to win three majors in one season was Babe Zaharias in 1950.

So Park’s performance this year has brought some wonderful attention to the LPGA. ‘Grand slam’ talk is everywhere but even if Park wins the British, she still won’t have the ‘slam’ because there are five major tournaments in the women’s pro game. The Evian Masters, in France in September, was recently granted ‘major’ status, so a Grand Slam now consists of five majors. Hardly fair, but what an accomplishment it would be if Park can somehow win at St. Andrew’s Aug. 1-4 and follow it up with a victory in France. Her smiling face would be everywhere — TV, magazines, newspapers, cyberspace. To the LPGA Tour, it would be Lindbergh crossing the Atlantic, Armstrong walking on the moon. Five majors in one year — wow!

Among those excited about Park’s run are her LPGA colleagues. “ It’s great what she’s doing,” said American Stacey Lewis, displaced in April by Park as the No. 1 ranked golfer in the world. “It’s creating a lot of headlines for us, which is good.”

Another American, Paula Creamer, said Park’s incredible run is raising the LPGA bar:  “It’s elevating all of us. It’s where we need to be. If we’re not, she’s going to leave us all in the dust.”

That cloud of dust is definitely forming.