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Grace Park: “Let Every Year By Like This One”

Posted November. 22, 2004 23:06,   


“Amazon of the Green” Grace Park (Park Ji-eun, 25, Nike Golf) just had the best season of her five-year career in the U.S. LPGA Tour.

Although she finished in joint 15th place with a 2-over-par 290 in the season’s last tournament, the ADT Championship, which took place at the Trump International Golf Club (par 72, 6,506 yards) in West Palm Beach, Florida on November 22, she was confirmed as the winner of her first Vare Trophy. The prestigious award is given to the player with the lowest average score for each season.

Park will participate in a series of events hosted by JP Morgan Chase, on November 25 and December 3 in Taiwan and Hong Kong, then compete in the Korea-Japan Women’s Professional Golf match on December 5. The following are some long-cherished goals that Park has fulfilled this season.

Her First Major Title—

When Song A-ree tied the score by sinking a 9m eagle putt on the 18th hole in the final round of the Nabisco Championship in March, Grace Park’s expression became rigid. It was a moment that could have led to yet another frustrated attempt at a major title. But Park successfully hit a 1.8m birdie putt despite immense pressure, to grasp her first major trophy in the U.S. LPGA Tour.

The End of Her “One Win per Season” Jinx, and Her First Championship Title at Home—

For Grace Park, who took the U.S. amateur tour by storm with 55 wins, her four-year run of single-win seasons since her professional debut was a clear disappointment. But this year, her emotional, “all or nothing” formula was replaced by a “steady and tenacious” attitude.

After winning her second title of the season at the CJ Nine Bridges Classic in October, which also happened to be her first victory on the Korean circuit, Park remarked that it made her “happier than winning a U.S. major title.” Just five months ago, she had been struck a heavy blow by Ahn Si-hyun’s come-from-behind win in the Korean X-CANVAS tournament.

Her First Vare Trophy (Lowest Season Average)—

Last year, Grace Park lost the Vare Trophy to Pak Se-ri by a mere eight-hundredths of a stroke. This year, she beat Lorena Ochoa (Mexico) by three-hundredths of a stroke to win the coveted award.

She also won four Hall of Fame points (27 needed for induction), which is equal to the total she earned over the previous four years, in a single year. (A major win=2 points, a regular win=1 point, the Vare Trophy=1 point)

Meanwhile, at the ADT Championship, the “Empress of Golf” Annika Sorenstam (Sweden) defeated Christie Kerr (U.S.) in a sudden-death playoff to capture her eighth win of the season.

Young-Sik Ahn ysahn@donga.com