Park In-bee has two more titles in sight
Park In-bee, 25, may have clinched the LPGA Player of the Year prize on Sunday, but the season isn’t over. Park still has two more titles in her sights - one a likely win, but the other will be more difficult.
The last tour event of the year is the CME Group Titleholders championship, which will be held in Florida from Thursday to Sunday (local time). At stake is the bragging rights to biggest money winner of the year and the Vare Trophy, given to the golfer with the lowest scoring average over the last 12 months.
Park actually won both prizes last year. Park is currently top earner of the year, having made $2.39 million in prize money, but Norway’s Suzann Pettersen is close behind with $2.28 million. The winner of the CME Group Titleholders event earns $700,000, so the outcome is certainly still open.
The United States’ Stacy Lewis is also capable of winning that category, at least statistically, as she has earned $1.89 million.
In addition, Park is aiming for the Vare Trophy. At the moment, though, Park is in third place for this award, with an average of 69.9 shots per round this year.
Lewis is leading with 69.48 and Pettersen is in second place with 69.59.
Park became the first Korean to clinch the LPGA Tour’s Player of the Year after finishing at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Guadalajara, Mexico, on Sunday with a fourth place, 11-under-par 277.
If Park can win the two outstanding titles, she would become the first player to win all three honors since 2011 when Yani Tseng of Taiwan gained the trifecta.
Along with Park, other Koreans competing in the CME Group Titleholders tournament include last year’s winner Choi Na-yeon, world No. 4 player Ryu So-yeon and world No. 9 Kim In-kyung.
A Korean has won this event for the past two years - Choi last year and Park Hee-young in 2011.
Sixteen-year-old Lydia Ko of New Zealand will make her professional-level debut in the event.
Under LPGA rules, only golfers older than 18 years old can be members of the LPGA Tour, but as Ko has already won two events, the LPGA decided to waive the age requirement.
The championship will air on J Golf, a JoongAng Media Network cable channel, with the first round teeing off at 3:30 a.m. Friday Korea time.
“I want to make a nice finale to this great season,” Park told reporters.
“I’m in a good shape physically and ready to compete in the coming event. I truly want to thank the Korean fans who have consistently supported me, regardless of the outcome of each event in which I participated.”
BY Kwon Sang-soo [firstname.lastname@example.org]