Park and Pak are shooting for a career grand slam

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Park and Pak are shooting for a career grand slam

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Park In-bee talks with her fiance and swing coach, Nam Ki-hyub, at the Evian Championship held in Evian-les-Bains, France, which started yesterday, local time. [NEWSIS]

Koreans Park In-bee, 26, and Pak Se-ri, 36, are competing for a career grand slam at the Evian Championship in France that began Thursday, local time.

For either Park or Pak, a win would be a fourth title of the five major tournaments on the LPGA Tour: the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, the U.S. Women’s Open, the Ricoh Women’s British Open and the Evian Championship.

Park, who will marry her swing coach, Nam Ki-hyub, next month, won the Evian Championship in 2012, but it was not recognized as a major until last year. She won the Kraft Nabisco Championship in 2013, the KPMG PGA Women’s Championship (formerly the Wegmans LPGA Championship) in 2013 and 2014, and the U.S. Women’s Open in 2008 and 2013.

Park had another chance for a career grand slam at the British Open in July, where she led through the second round, but Mo Martin, 31, of the United States won by two strokes.

Thus far, no woman has won a grand slam, which means winning four of the five majors in a season.

Six players have achieved career grand slams: Louise Suggs (1957), Mickey Wright (1962), Pat Bradley (1986), Juli Inkster (1999), Karrie Webb (2001) and Annika Sorenstam (2003).

Karrie Webb is also the only player with a career super grand slam, winning the British Open in 2002.

If Park wins this week in France, she would be the first Asian career grand slam winner and the youngest at the age of 23 and two months.

The Evian Championship is another chance for Pak to win a career grand slam. The country’s first-generation golfer was in contention at the Kraft Nabisco Championship in April, but she finished in fourth place.

If Park or Pak wins the Evian Championship, she would pull ahead of the other in career major wins. Pak won her fifth major in 2006 at the McDonald’s LPGA Championship, and Park collected her fifth major victory at the Wegmans LPGA Championship last month.

Another goal of Park is to win the Rolex Annika Major Award, established this year to commemorate Swedish legend Annika Sorenstam, who retired in 2008.

To win the award, the top 10 finishers at this season’s five majors earn points, and the award will go to the one with the most. Park is currently second with 74 points from winning the LPGA Championship and finishing second at the British Open, trailing Korean-American Michelle Wie at 84 points. She won the U.S. Women’s Open and took second place at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

Wie, who returned to the tour after missing five weeks with an injured finger, expressed her desire for the award.

“The Rolex Annika Major Award is one of my goals this year and I’m happy that I’m back from my injury,” said Wie. “I know it is a good opportunity, and I’m definitely going to win the award.”

Lexi Thompson, who won the Kraft Nabisco Championship this season, also has her eyes on the prize.

“I have prepared so hard and I’m in good shape, too,” said Thompson. “Annika is my role model and winning this award would mean a lot to me.”

Though an Evian Championship would mean a lot to Park as well, she seems relaxed and ready for the challenge.

“Thanks to my recent experiences, I feel much less burdened than last year,” said Park. “I believe my experiences will help me deal with the pressure of playing in the Evian Championship.”

BY KIM BONG-MOON, KIM DU-YONG [bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]



















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