LANCASTER, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - World number one Park In-bee is usually seen as the player to beat in women’s golf majors these days, and now the Korean has extra motivation at this week’s U.S. Women’s Open.
Park, who has won five of the last dozen majors with no other rival notching more than one in that span, is coming off a missed cut and a poor putting week -- two rarities for the 26-year-old South Korean.
She gets a chance to make amends starting on Thursday at Lancaster Country Club in the year’s third major.
“I putted really bad two weeks ago, and that definitely gave me somewhat like a wake-up call,” Park told reporters on Tuesday. “I had a bad week and that definitely made me practice harder and gave me a lot more motivation coming into this week.”
Not exactly comforting to the rest of the 156-player field that includes defending champion Michelle Wie and other former winners such as Choi Na-yeon (2012), Ryu So-yeon (2011), Paula Creamer (2010) and Cristie Kerr (2007).
Motivation combined with skill and confidence has been a winning formula for Park, who this season reclaimed the number one ranking from 18-year-old Lydia Ko of New Zealand.
“When I come to major championships, I work extra hard,” said Park, who has six majors among her 15 LPGA titles.
“I like the atmosphere. I like the little bit extra pressure when we start the game. Obviously having good results helps. That gives me a lot of confidence.”
Known as one of the tour’s top putters, Park said the sloping greens at Lancaster could well decide the championship.
”I played here five weeks ago, it was really dry then and now it’s wet,“ she said about the long, hilly layout. ”I feel like I‘m playing two different golf courses.
“The greens are very slopey here, so when it gets hard and fast it gets really tough.”
More rain is forecast for Wednesday, but the tournament days look to be hot and dry, which could firm things up.
“The greens are going to be really the key this week. The breaks are huge on the greens,” Said Park, whose 2008 U.S. Women’s Open victory made her the youngest ever winner of the championship at 19. “Even if it’s a short putt, you have to aim it a cup outside or two cups outside.”
Editing by Frank Pingue