Family pet helps drive Park to win

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Family pet helps drive Park to win

Grand Slam champion Park In-bee has credited her success in the world golfing circuit to the support of her family. And that includes her pet dog, and lifelong friend, Semi.

While taking first place at the British Women’s Open earlier this month, her 17-year-old pet was never far from her mind … or her golf bag.

Since 2013, she has been using a driver head cover that looks like Semi. The 27-year-old golfer had her club sponsor Srixon specially design the cover to constantly have a reminder of her canine companion by her side .

“I get an energy when I take out the driver from the Semi head cover,” Park said.

According to Park, a 16-time LPGA Tour winner including seven major titles, Semi has been her good friend since she stayed in the United States in 2001 to learn golf.

Adjusting to a new environment and culture at an early age, Park said Semi, a cross between a cocker spaniel and Korean jindo, helped her through some difficult times.

Park’s father bought the puppy for her in her fifth grade after she won the first trophy of her career at the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup golf tournament.

After Park made the LPGA Tour debut in 2007 and became busy with her golfing schedule, Semi stayed at her parents’ house in Korea. Whenever Park returned home, Semi would always meet her first, wagging her tail at the front door.

But when Park returned from Scotland last Tuesday, Semi was different. Semi had suffered a seizure when she was playing at Turnberry.

“I hadn’t seen her for five months, but I think she waited for me until I returned to Korea,” Park said.

Semi is ill, and her eyesight and hearing are getting worse. To spend more time with her ailing pet, Park canceled her appearance at the Cambia Portland Classic in the LPGA Tour this week.

She will leave for the U.S. today to prepare for the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in Vancouver from Aug. 20.

Regardless of the outcome of the tournament and Semi’s condition, Park says her canine companion will never be far from her thoughts.

“For 17 years, she didn’t give me a concern,” Park said. “She is more than a dog in our family.”

BY KIM DU-YONG, JOO KYUNG-DON [joo.kyungdon@joongang.co.kr]

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