Park In-bee cracks top 15 after 2nd place LPGA finish

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Park In-bee cracks top 15 after 2nd place LPGA finish

Korean LPGA star Park In-bee has cracked the top 15 in the world rankings after finishing in second place in the tour’s season opener.

Park moved up two spots to reach No. 14 in the latest rankings released Tuesday. The former world No. 1 lost in a three-way playoff at the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, last weekend, and ended up tying for second with Nasa Hataoka behind the winner, Gaby Lopez.

This was the earliest start to a season for Park since 2016 and only the third time she began a year in January since 2010. She has often opened her seasons in February but made an exception this year because she hopes to keep moving up in the world rankings and qualify for the Tokyo Olympics in the summer.

The Olympic field will feature 60 players, and those inside the top 15 in the world rankings at the end of June will automatically qualify. But there is a limit of four players per country, and Korea, thanks to its deep talent pool, now has six players inside the top 15.

Ahead of Park are Ko Jin-young (No. 1), Park Sung-hyun (No. 2), Kim Sei-young (No. 6), Lee Jeong-eun (No. 7) and Kim Hyo-joo (No. 12).

Park, the 2016 Olympic gold medalist, has said she’ll try to play in as many tournaments as she can in the first half of this year, in order to give herself a chance to defend her Olympic title.

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