Park looks to honor late grandfather at Bank of Hope Match-Play

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Park looks to honor late grandfather at Bank of Hope Match-Play

Park In-bee's grandfather congratulates her on her gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, welcoming her at Incheon International Airport on Aug. 23, 2016. [ILGAN SPORTS]

Park In-bee's grandfather congratulates her on her gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, welcoming her at Incheon International Airport on Aug. 23, 2016. [ILGAN SPORTS]

 
For Park In-bee, the Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play is personal. The hall-of-famer is playing for the first time in her career without the support of her grandfather, who passed away on Monday.
 
The inaugural Bank of Hope Match-Play started Wednesday at Shadow Creek Golf Course in Las Vegas, Nevada, where Park has lived since she was 15.  
 

“My grandfather passed away yesterday,” Park said in a pre-tournament interview. “He is the one that got me into this game and he would probably want me playing, so that is why I am playing this week.”
 
“His dream was to play golf with me and my father, three generations. That’s how I got into the game. He really wanted to take me to the golf course, and I was probably 10 when I started playing. He was a really good golfer and loved playing with me. I’m here because of him so I think that’s why it just means so much more.”
 
Park's grandfather is the one who gave her the name 'In-bee', which means ‘wise queen’ in Korean.
 
“[I] want to make him proud,” Park said. “He really loved me playing golf and he always means so much in my heart. Luckily, I got to go back to Korea last week and was able to see him. The doctor said, ‘You should say goodbye to him.’ It was probably the saddest thing I’ve ever had to do. I think he’s in a good place. He’ll be watching me from Heaven.”
 
Park’s grandfather was there for many of her biggest career wins. In 2016 when Park came back with a gold medal from the Rio Olympics, it was her grandfather who met her at the airport and put a lei around Park’s neck.  
 
Park tied for third earlier this month at her most-recent LPGA tournament, the HSBC Women’s World Championship in Singapore. Not only is she a two-time champion of the event, but it is also where she shares special memories with her grandfather.
 
“The last tournament he watched was 2017 HSBC in Singapore, which I won. Right after, he went back to Korea, he has been in the hospital since then [with a brain condition],” said Park. “The last tournament he watched me playing golf [in person] was me winning.”
 
BY YUN SO-HYANG   [yun.sohyang@joongang.co.kr]

 
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