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Park Continues to Cruise in 2013
Inbee Park is on quite a roll. The 23-year-from Seoul closed with a 4-under 67 Sunday to win the inaugural North Texas Shootout at Las Colinas Country Club in Irving, Texas.
The victory - by a stroke over Spain's Carlota Ciganda - was Park's third of the year; her earlier wins came in February's Honda LPGA Classic and the Kraft Nabisco Championship - her second career major - three weeks ago.
Over the 72-hole North Texas Shootout, the consistent Park recorded three 4-under 67s and a 1-under 70 to end up at 13-under 271, earning $195,000 and further securing her position atop the Rolex Rankings. Park supplanted American Stacy Lewis - who remains at No. 2 - after her win in the Kraft Nabisco.
Ciganda, who was paired with Park on Sunday, was impressed with the South Korean. "I knew that she was going to play good," said Ciganda, a 22-year-old from Pamplona. "She is No. 1 in the world. She has won I don't know how many events this year. She won the Kraft. So I mean she's playing great, and yeah, I think I just need to congratulate her on her game and her caddie, too."
After accepting the champion's check and becoming the first-ever player to win the North Texas Shootout, Park met with reporters and discussed her latest victory and consistent excellent play. Here's what she had to say after her latest triumph.
MODERATOR: It's my pleasure to welcome the inaugural North Texas LPGA Shootout winner Inbee Park into the interview room. Congratulations on your third victory of the season. It's also your sixth career win. You maintain the No. 1 spot on the Rolex World rankings. You hold the No. 1 spot in the Rolex Player of the Year race. You've basically done it all this year. Just talk about your day and how it feels to hoist another trophy.
INBEE PARK: Yeah. Today coming into the final round, I was two shots back, and I didn't really think about winning so much. And you know, the front nine I was given a lot of birdie chances out there, and nothing seemed to be going in, so I was a little bit frustrated. But on the other hand, Carlota was putting really good and she was playing really almost perfect. She wasn't making any mistakes until No. 13, and she played very good today, except for a couple of holes. And until No. 13 I thought I wouldn't have a chance because Carlota was really playing solid. So yeah, I was just trying to be really patient out there, and finally a couple dropped for me at the end.
MODERATOR: Just talk about holes 14 and 15. Carlota bogeyed and then she hit it in the water on 15 and double bogeyed. Does that change the way you're thinking as you approach the last couple of holes thinking maybe I can really win this thing now?
INBEE PARK: Yeah. It wasn't something like I was making three, four birdies to catch her. I was just making just straight pars, and Carlota was just making mistakes. And yeah, I was just all day I was just trying to be really patient and if the chances come, then I win; if not, maybe next chance. And yeah, I just tried to wait every hole.
MODERATOR: Can you take us through the 18th hole? Both of you had pretty good drives, pretty good second shots, just what club you hit on that hole and especially the final putt how it broke, how far it was.
INBEE PARK: Yeah. Last hole Carlota was a lot ahead of me, and I knew that she might looked like from my position she might go for it from there and that she had a little bit of a space in between the trees. So I thought that she would probably make a birdie and I was expecting her to make a birdie. And really luckily I only had 210 from I hit like 290 drive. I never did this week. And 210, and it was helping us a little bit, so I hit 5 wood over the tree, and I knew that it was going to clear everything and if anything it was going to end up in the bunker. So I thought it was definitely worth a go, and yeah, that's what I did. I thought it was just going to jump up there. But it wasn't an easy chip. It was 15 yards, and I didn't have that much green to work with. And yeah, I just landed it on and ended up like five, six feet from the hole, and it was a breaking a little right to left. That's what I did.
MODERATOR: You mentioned it out on the green. So many fans came out this week. How impressed were you with the gallery walking down 18 today?
INBEE PARK: Yeah. I mean, yeah, I didn't expect that much of a gallery this week, and I knew it was really close from the city and I know there is a big population in Dallas, but they are really interested in golf. And yeah, I'm very happy to see a lot of people out here cheering us on, and especially there was a lot of Korean girls cheering hard for me, too. So yeah, it felt like a little bit home. So that's good.
MODERATOR: We'll take a question from AP. Just one more from me. I heard you went to Koreatown this week. What did you do there?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, I probably went there three or four times this week. I just go there to eat and go to bookstore and buy some books and just to look around, they have a bakery and get a yogurt. All that stuff.
Q. Can you talk about the idea, when you're playing with the player that you're chasing for the lead and it seemed, like you said, y'all played pretty close together except for those couple holes, but talk about the pace she set and how she kind of impressed you, but also did you see a turning point for you or was it just playing steady?
INBEE PARK: Yeah. Today like I say about Carlota, she wasn't making that many mistakes out there today. She was hitting fairways and greens and making putts. And I thought I played really great today, but I just missed a lot of birdie opportunities, so I thought I might be this tournament might not be mine because I missed that many opportunities and Carlota was playing great golf. And I was really ready to actually congratulate her if she played that solid on the back nine. But she made a couple mistakes on the back nine, and on the back nine I didn't make many mistakes. I just parred almost every hole and made a couple of putts when I had opportunities, and I really tried to be patient, you know, just waiting for a birdie to come.
Q. Your ability to avoid mistakes really impressive the last two rounds, I think 35 holes without a bogey and nine birdies. Can you just talk about kind of staying patient and avoiding disasters?
INBEE PARK: Well, it was I think I gotta say I'm getting really used to seeing this golf course. At first it was really tough because to my eyes it looked fairways were really sloped and you couldn't pick a landing spot here to hit my drives, but by the third day I was really getting used to the golf course, and I was getting really comfortable out there. I didn't miss many greens, didn't miss many fairways. Yeah, the greens here were tricky, and I missed a lot of putts out there, but yeah, really happy the last one fell for me.
Q. You were about two or three feet away from her on the 15th fairway. Your balls were very close to one another. Did it surprise you when you saw her ball go in the water or did you see a ball go in the water?
INBEE PARK: No. I didn't actually see her ball. I mean I saw her hitting it, but I lost the ball and I didn't know where it went. Yeah, I just knew that she was looking for the ball. I mean that pin was really hard. I mean I thought mine was going to be really short, but it rolled all the way to the pin so I was really surprised at how hard that pin was playing.
Q. Inbee, share your overall impression of the tournament being played here at Las Colinas and if you look forward to it being a tournament destination for years to come.
INBEE PARK: Yeah. I think it we had great crowds this week and the tournament organization was really they did really great. It was so organized, and really surprised it was the first year. They looked like they were really professional. And a lot of fans and a lot of volunteers helped us making this week possible. And it looked like, you know, it was not the first year. It was very experienced. It was a very good experience. I think Texas is a very good golfing destination, and it's always good to hold a tournament, LPGA tournament.
Q. That's three wins this year and five in your last 18 starts. Can you talk about the confidence you're playing with right now and just how good it feels when you go on the golf course knowing that if you play well you've got a chance to do what you've been doing?
INBEE PARK: Yeah. It's always good to see my name on the top of the leaderboard almost every week. I mean not every week, but close to every week. Yeah, it always feels good, my game is it's really good to see my game is improving every week, every year, and just trying to take it step by step. If I wasn't putting good this week, I just try to improve on it next week, and if I was not hitting the ball as good this week, I just try to improve that next week, and everything's just improving step by step every week, and I feel it, too.
Q. Inbee, three wins already this year, the season's first major. Do you think that tells media or fans or maybe other players if they wanted to go to the top you're going to be there waiting on them? Does that kind of clarify where you are so far?
INBEE PARK: I'm not that good every week. Yeah, I try to be try to play for a win every week and try to, yeah, try to win every week and try my best every week so I can win a tournament. That's what I play for, and especially after being No. 1 in the Rolex Rankings, that's something else that I play for every week. And it's just an honor to play for No. 1 every week.
Q. You mentioned a minute ago if you're not doing something well one week, that's what you work to improve on. But what is it you want to improve on next week after winning?
INBEE PARK: It's going to be getting into the greens, and this week was a lot of tricky mistakes, and I misread a lot of putts. But everything else I did pretty good, so I'm trying to get used to next week's green.
Q. When somebody else came back to hit, can you talk about how that kind of delay and what you were thinking at the time and was it distracting to you?
INBEE PARK: No. I mean, no, it was all right. I mean it was actually a really good it ended up really good for me because I made a birdie. Maybe if I hit it in the water maybe and I could have blamed it on them, but it ended up I gave myself a little bit more time to think about the shot, and yeah, it worked good for me.
Q. Inbee, yesterday Na Yeon came in and she said she goes back to Korea a lot. Surprisingly.
INBEE PARK: Who is this?
Q. Na Yeon. Every time she takes a week off she said she goes back. Do you travel back that often? And second question, if I might, can you kind of explain to us the difference of the importance of women's golf in Korea versus here, because there is a massive difference is my sense?
INBEE PARK: To women's golf here and women's golf in Korea? Yeah, first of all, Korea women's golf is much more popular than men's golf back in Korea. They don't really watch men's that much in Korea, but they love women's golf in Korea. I mean professional golf in Korea is really big, a lot of tournaments. We have a KLPGA Tour and they have 27 tournaments this year. That's how the Korean people approach Korean women's golf. And you know, yeah.
Q. And how often do you travel back?
INBEE PARK: Oh, I go back to Korea probably more than Na Yeon. Yeah, I love to go back home and whatever especially when I don't have like a residence here in the U. S. Yeah, so whenever I have more than two weeks off, I go back.
Q. You said you went to Koreatown a lot this week. Where is that? Where did you go?
INBEE PARK: That's actually in Dallas. It's like eight miles from here.
MODERATOR: Inbee, we'll close with one more. We talked a lot about when you came to the States and overcoming the language barrier. When you first arrived in the United States, did you ever think that on an almost weekly basis you would be sitting here holding a trophy talking about winning another LPGA event? Was that a dream for you?
INBEE PARK: Oh, yeah. It was a dream, but I didn't know that dream was going to come true like this. But yeah, that was definitely one of my goals to reach when I was a young kid. I mean I came here when I was 12 and played in junior tournaments, like in Florida junior events, and I was winning a lot of them when I was younger, I felt like I should be winning every tournament when I get to LPGA, but it wasn't like that when I came on the LPGA Tour. I had a little bit of trouble when I came here until the second, third year and it was a lot of good golfers out here that can play much better than me, and I learned a lot from them, and finally I'm here.
MODERATOR: On behalf of the LPGA we want to thank all the media for your coverage. We know there's a lot going on in Dallas Fort Worth and in Irving and we appreciate you coming out. Thank you to the Nexxus Club and all the sponsors and Inbee, congratulations.
INBEE PARK: Thank you.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.