SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea’s Park In-bee had once hoped to win all the top tournaments in women’s golf before her career came to an end. After winning the British Open on Sunday, the 27-year-old now finds herself searching for new goals.
Park’s three-shot win over compatriot Ko Jin-young at Turnberry gave her a seventh major championship and confirmed her status as one of the greatest players of all time.
She needs just three more majors to join greats Annika Sorenstam and Babe Zaharias at fourth on the all-time list, and is almost halfway to the 15 achieved by the legendary Patty Berg between 1937 and 1958.
The Seoul native has now won six of the last 14 majors and will be looking to cap a terrific season with victory at the year’s last major -- the Evian Championship.
Park won the tournament in its previous incarnation as the Evian Masters before it became the LPGA’s official fifth major two years ago.
While the LPGA has said winning any four of the five majors is enough to earn the ‘career grand slam’, with all five earning a ‘super slam,” many observers say Park has not technically achieved the career slam since her Evian win came before it was afforded official major status.
Regardless of the debate, Park said she had achieved the “greatest goal as a professional golfer”.
“I always thought this would be the last goal of my career,” she told Korea’s Yonhap news agency. “I am honored to my have my dream come true when I‘m this young.”
‘The Silent Assassin’ was at her stoic, unruffled best in south Ayrshire as Scotland’s wind and rain battered the players over four difficult days.
While the testing course and brutal conditions saw players recording eights and nines, with Spaniard Beatriz Recari even carding a 10 in the second round, Park kept her composure throughout and never scored worse than bogey.
“This week with the win and the rain it was so tough mentally and physically,” she added. “But I feel like I’ve received a great gift. I am so happy I can’t fully express it with words.”
Park, who will be vying for a spot on South Korea’s team for the 2016 Rio Olympics, said the level of talent being produced back home meant she had to keep improving.
”It’s a huge driving force for me,“ she said. ”We produce so many young players every year. They all want to come and play in the LPGA, and their time will come.
“It’s the reason I have to keep playing better.”
Additional reporting by Kim Hooyeon; Editing by Patrick Johnston