Posted August. 19, 2015 07:18,
Park In-bee (27) has unforgettable memories at the Canadian Pacific Womens Open of the U.S. LPGA Tour. The story goes back to 10 years ago. Back then, Park, as a high school senior, passed Mondays preliminary round of the Canadian Pacific Womens Open, acquired a berth to participate at the championship, but hurriedly headed to the LPGA secretariat in Florida by plane the next day. Park, who was dominating the U.S. junior golf community at the time, had submitted an appeal to the LPGA tour asking the association to accept her as a member as an exception to the rule that limits the age (18 years or older) of members on the tour.
She asked for her eligibility to participate not only at the Canadian Pacific Womens Open but also other LPGA tour events. She had received notice that the LPGA would positively consider her request before visiting the secretariat, but when visiting, she only learned that the association would not allow her. Having wasted energy, she returned to Canada and participated in the event, but failed to make the cut due to fatigue from travel and disappointment.
Ten years later, Park, who achieved her career Grand Slam to become the unrivaled golf champion, is returning to the LPGA tour through the Canadian Pacific Womens Open, which kicks off at Vancouver Golf Club (par 72) on Thursday (Canada time). After winning her fourth win of the season at the British Open early this month, Park participated at the Samdasoo Open in Jeju, Korea, and took rest for the past week to regain her stamina.
The upcoming event will entail an exciting showdown between Park In-bee and Canadian golf sensation Brooke Henderson (18) and Korean New Zealander golfer Lydia Koh, who is the same age as the Henderson. Like Park In-bee, Henderson also requested the LPGA tour to lift the age restriction last year, and was rejected. After that, she displayed outstanding performance and skills at the Portland Open last week to win the title, receiving glaring spotlight. Henderson became the first Canadian to win a LPGA tour championship in 14 years since Carolyn Laurie Kane in 2001. Amid excitement from the championship, Henderson is set to take part in a championship in her motherland, and hence is expected to win enthusiastic cheering by her home fans.
Lydia Koh, ranking second in the world, became the youngest player ever to win the champions trophy at the age of 15 years, four months and two days, at the Canadian event in 2012 when she was an amateur player, before winning the title again in 2013. Unlike Park and Henderson, Koh was granted exemption from the age restriction by the LPGA tour, and made her debut in the tour last year, when she was 17.
Good performance by younger players gives me fresh stimulus as well, said Park, who is ranking first in major categories of records including the average par, prize money, and the player of the year. She ranked third at the event last year.
Ryo So-yeon will seek to defend her title and win her first title of this season. She won her title over Choi Na-yeon by a difference of two pars last year. Kim Se-young and Kim Hyo-joo, who are intensely competing for the rookie of the year prize, are also among the potential winners. Kim Se-young maintains her lead with 976 points in the score for the rookie of the year prize, while Kim Hyo-joo is closely tracing the former by posting 962 points.