Park In-bee is poised to write a new chapter in South Korean golf history on the LPGA Tour.
On Sunday, she defeated fellow South Korean Ryu So-yeon in the first playoff hole at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. It was her fifth LPGA Tour victory of the season.
With the victory, the world’s No. 1-ranked golfer tied the record for most wins by a South Korean LPGA professional in a season.
Of the 14 tournaments held so far this year, she has taken five titles, including two majors.
Before Park, the single-season five-win record had been recorded by Pak Se-ri twice ― in 2001 and 2002.
However, Park ― one of the so-called “Se-ri kids” who were young girls when Pak figured out on the LPGA Tour ― is close to breaking the Korean record. She still has half of the season ahead of her.
The world record for most wins in a season is held by Mickey Wright of the U.S. with 13 victories in 1963. Sweden’s Annika Sorenstam notched up 11 wins in 2002 and 10 in 2005.
If Park wins one of three remaining majors this year, she will set a new record for the most major wins in a season by a Korean female golfer.
Pak was also the first Koreans to score two major triumphs in a season, winning the U.S. Women’s Open and the LPGA Championship in 1998.
Park won the Kraft Nabisco Championship in April and the LPGA Championship earlier this month.
Conditions seem favorable for her to add her third major victory this season, as the LPGA increased the number of major championships from four to five starting this year.
The three remaining majors are the U.S. Open from June 28-July 1, the British Open from Aug. 1-4 and the French Evian Championship from Sept. 12-15.
Park has not won the British Open yet. For the Evian Championship, she took the title last year but the win came before the tournament was given major status.
She is also favored to become Player of the Year on the LPGA Tour. Currently, she is far ahead of the pack with 221 points in the Player of the Year standings. An American golfer, Stacy Lewis, is in a distant second with 92 points.
Now, attention is further drawn to whether she will continue her winning momentum to take a clean sweep of all five majors this season.
“I gained confidence with a good result in Arkansas ahead of the U.S. Open,” Park told reporters, “I look forward to playing in the tournament.”
By Chun Sung-woo (email@example.com