She’s like the Timex watches of earlier days. Inbee Park just keeps on tickin’ ... another win here, another major top-5 there, another stellar year in a career many declared was over four years ago.
It was at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Sahalee in 2016 when those rumblings began. Back, hand, elbow, shoulder and neck injuries, some chronic and nagging, had her so balled up she barely could make contact. That week Park shot 72-79 and called a halt to the rest of her season. Then, out of nowhere, she came back and won the Olympic gold medal.
Since then she’s piled three more wins onto the hall-of-fame heap and has had four top-5s in majors, including a fourth at this year’s AIG Women’s Open and a runner-up last week at the pandemic-delayed KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Aronimink.
Park made the Women’s PGA a two-player race early in the final round when, trailing by two and playing one group ahead of leader Sei Young Kim, she made birdies at Nos. 1, 5 and 7 to keep pace. Under normal circumstances that would have been enough. Park’s presence on the leaderboard can cause a good chunk of the field to wither away.
But Kim refused to relent. Park never got closer than one shot back.
“I couldn’t ask for a better day,” Park said after shooting 65 and finishing solo second. “I probably left a couple of birdies out there, but I feel like I didn’t make many mistakes at all with my ballstriking. But Sei Young was just really untouchable. She played really, really good golf today. I’d like to congratulate her. That’s how a champion plays a final round so it was good to see that.
“I was three back, so I thought 65 would definitely do it,” Park said. “I was thinking maybe like 5- to 6-under is a good number to kind of post and just see what happens. But obviously Sei Young was just much better than anyone else out there today.
“I saw the leaderboard and it just kept going lower and lower and lower and she kept making birdies. I’d make birdies, she makes birdies, and I was like, ‘Come on!’ It was just fun to have that kind of race.”
It was fun for the players. And it was good for golf. Good for the majors in this topsy-turvy year. Good for the PGA of America and the LPGA Tour. And good for the women’s game.