'Celebrity' Park will make run at fourth major title

Inbee Park holds up three fingers to represent her three major titles so far this season.

Inbee Park’s quest for a fourth major in 2013 resumes this week in France. The Evian Championship won’t have quite the same buzz as the Old Course, given that Park can no longer win four consecutive, but it’s a newsworthy week nonetheless for golf’s newest major and the LPGA’s fifth.

Park won last year’s Evian to kickstart one of golf’s most historic runs. At the time it was only her second victory on the LPGA, and when she went back home to Korea, not much changed.

“I was just one of the Koreans that’s playing on the LPGA Tour,” Park said.

Three majors later and counting, that’s no longer the case.

“When I walk outside and go anywhere in Korea, a lot of people come up to me,” Park said. “It’s like I’m a celebrity.”

Park and the rest of the field are familiarizing themselves with a redesigned course at Evian. The greens have been reshaped and all 82 bunkers – some new, some old – have been changed. The new par-5 13th and 15th holes are now reachable, and the 16th is a par-3 over water, replacing the old short, par-3 17th. The finishing hole, before a very birdieable par-5, will be played from a similar distance but counted as a par 4.

Stacy Lewis, one of the hottest players in the game right now who finished second to Park last year in Evian, said it’s too early to make a good assessment of the changes.

“I don’t think the golf course is quite ready for us,” Lewis said.

“I don’t think we’re quite playing it the way it’s supposed to be played.”

Park, a six-time winner so far this season and World No. 1, said she feels like “pressure is my friend now.”

After Park won the 2008 U.S. Women’s Open, she experienced a dip in her performance as she struggled to adapt to the pressures of success. There were times she wanted to give up and pursue a career that gave her less stress.

Maturity brought about new perspective: “Everything that you do has stress to it.”

Having already surpassed many of her dreams for this year, Park’s new wish, interestingly enough, doesn’t even mention golf.

“I wish that tomorrow is more happy than today,” she said. “If you can leave your day with a smile, I think that’s all I can ask for really.”

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