PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. – The Ricoh Women’s British Open will be Inbee Park’s fifth start in as many weeks. Since her junior days, Park’s body/brain/game has been trained for summer competition. She likes to get hot; she likes to let her body find a rhythm.
Like Jordan Spieth warming up for a date with history by competing (and winning) the John Deere Classic, Park looks at the Meijer LPGA Classic as the perfect prep for her own dream week – the final leg of the career Grand Slam.
“I think now the whole world knows that I really want to achieve the career Grand Slam,” said Park, who opened with a 1-under 70 at the Meijer LPGA Classic. The World No. 1 lost the inaugural 2014 Meijer in a playoff to Mirim Lee, who WD’d on Wednesday.
Park, 27, said she’s done the research and realized she places best at the majors when she competes the week before. Consider it a last-minute cram session before a big exam, she said.
“There are certain things that you just can’t try on the practice range,” said Park. “You’ve got to try it in the tournament and see if it’s really working for you. And I really want to play the week before the major to kind of check up on everything and make sure I’m in good shape. I could be a little more bit tired than taking a week off, but I’ve done this before. I can deal with the tiredness.”
Park called last year’s close call in England the “most disappointing tournament” of her career. Her longtime caddie, Brad Beecher, said he left Royal Birkdale asking himself “How did we lose that?”
“I walked away genuinely disappointed,” said Beecher. “I asked myself a million questions.”
Park closed with a 77, bogeying the 72nd hole, a reachable par 5. Eventual champion Mo Martin, of course, was the clubhouse leader and eventual champion after making eagle on the last.
In a way, Park’s victory at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship took pressure off of next week. She’s already achieved her big goal of 2015: win a major.
Anything more will feel like a bonus, she said. No need to get greedy; Park has won five of the past 13 majors.
Park’s ball-striking at the U.S. Women’s Open in Lancaster was superb. But for the life of her, the consistent South Korean could not figure out the speed of the greens. Particularly downhill. She tied for third at Lancaster, and then moved to the Marathon Classic, where the greens were faster, but putts still didn’t drop. She tied for eighth last week in Toledo, Ohio.
Regardless of what happens in Michigan, Park remains the favorite at Trump Turnberry though she has yet to see the golf course. Beecher caddied there in 2002 for Michelle Ellis, his first Women’s British experience.
Park has four top-9 finishes in her past five Women’s British Open starts, but she’s trying not to build up too much pressure.
“I’m going to have a lot more chances,” she said. “And this time I’m just trying to not rush for it. I’m just going to try to just make it happen naturally.”