Inbee Rocks Rio


21 August 2016 (Pasadena, CA) Who would have thought that a chance meeting in an elevator in Palm Springs a decade a go would place me shoulder to shoulder with one of the all-time LPGA greats, Inbee Park? A family vacation corresponded with the Kraft Nabisco Championship and Inbee was staying in our hotel. Early one evening I was getting on an elevator and Inbee (I had no idea who she was) and her caddy were getting on the same elevator. I had played earlier that day so I decided to make golf small talk. “How’d you hit them today?” She smiled shyly and said, “O.K.” and exited. I, and she, had no idea that she would go on to have one of the more stellar LPGA careers following in the footsteps of fellow country-woman, Se Ri Pak, leading to a decade of South Korean dominance of the LPGA tour (and in 2016 it appears the dominance will continue for some time). 17 LPGA wins, 3 European tour wins, 7 majors, and most recently–a gold-medal in Rio. She held the number one position for most of 2013 and ’14 in which she held 3 major champion titles concurrently. Hall of Fame material without a doubt. The dominance she exhibited on Saturday shooting a -5 round to come in at -16, 5 strokes ahead of silver medalist and current world number 1 Lydia Ko (-11) and 6 strokes ahead of silver medalist, Shanshan Feng (-10). She left no doubt. In fact, the drama of the women’s draw (especially the race for the silver medal) demonstrated the viability of golf remaining an Olympic sport for decades to come. The women had not participated in 116 years (the men had an absence of 112 years). Think about these decisive medal moments…Shanshan Feng (-10) 3 putts 18 to take her from a playoff tie for silver to bronze. Stacy Lewis (-9) leaves her birdie putt on 18 one rotation short leaving her out of a bronze medal playoff. And perhaps most dramatically, Harukyo Namura (-9) whiffed on a back-handed tap-in a few days earlier which also kept her out of a bronze medal playoff. You can’t make this stuff up. The United States would also like a reprieve after failing to medal in 2016. Stacy Lewis (-9), Gerina Piller (-6), and Lexi Thompson (-3) all had their moments and chances in Rio. I am sure these ladies will have the 2020 summer Olympics in Tokyo on their calendars. In conclusion, a hearty congratulations should go out to the course designers and builders, the IGF, PGA, Royal and Ancient, LPGA, the Women’s European Tour, and the staff on the ground in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for hosting a very successful ladies and men’s tournaments. Even more impressively, was the tremendous fan support at each day’s events–probably the most important marker of viability and interest. Well done Rio, YOU DID IT, see you in Tokyo and congratulations gold-medal winner, Inbee Park.

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