Golf Tidbits: Park-ed in history books


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Updated: 7/11/2013 1:59 pm Published: 7/11/2013 1:59 pm


Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Slow. Methodical. Precise.

Those are just three adjectives one could use when describing Inbee Park's golf swing. They are also three ways to explain how Park went about winning the first three majors on the LPGA Tour.

Park won the Kraft Nabisco by four strokes over 2011 U.S. Women's Open champion So Yeon Ryu. In her closest win in a major this year, Park defeated 2009 Women's British Open champ Catriona Matthew on the third playoff hole.

On Sunday, Park wrapped up a 4-stroke victory over I.K. Kim at the U.S. Women's Open.

The title put Park alongside Babe Didrikson Zaharias as the second female golfer to win the first three majors of the year. Mickey Wright and Pat Bradley won three majors in a single year, but not consecutive.

Zaharias won all three majors contested in 1950, while Wright and Bradley won three of the four majors played 1961 and 1986, respectively.

Among those who never accomplished such a feat were LPGA all-time wins leader Kathy Whitworth, Patty Berg (who has the most LPGA major championship titles), Annika Sorenstam, Nancy Lopez, JoAnne Carner, Karrie Webb, Lorena Ochoa or Laura Davies.

The last golfer to win three consecutive majors was Tiger Woods in 2000, when he won the final three majors of the year before completing the Tiger-slam at the '01 Masters.

Park can't win the Grand Slam, per say, this year because there are five major championships this season.

Maybe we can call it the Grande Slam, or maybe the Venti Slam?

Whatever it could be called, Park's chance at history with a fourth consecutive major couldn't come at a more appropriate location - the Old Course at St. Andrews, better known as the home of golf.

If she wins there or at the Evian Championship in September, she'd be the first golfer, male or female, to win four majors in one season.

We can cross that bridge in a few weeks, so let's look at what she accomplished on Sunday.

Park won her third straight event and for the eighth time in her last 24 starts. She also has five runner-up finishes in that span, meaning she has finished first or second in 54 percent of her starts dating to the Evian Masters last July.

Her only other major win before this incredible run was at the 2008 U.S. Women's Open. With the four major championships, Park is tied for 16th with the likes of Davies and Meg Mallon in the most major wins in an LPGA career.

In her eight appearances at the U.S. Women's Open, Park now has a remarkable six top-10 finishes.

Park said in several post-round interviews, "I just don't know what I did."

In a few days, or a few weeks, she'll be able to wrap her arms around the fact that she did something many of the game's greats were unable to accomplish.

Park will be announced on the first tee the rest of the year as winner of the Kraft Nabisco Championship, LPGA Championship and U.S. Women's Open Championship.

That will bring a smile to her face, then she'll go right back to the task at hand. Dismantling another course, and leaving the field in her dust.

HAAS MAKING AMENDS FOR 2012

As the reigning FedExCup champion, Bill Haas thought he would cruise into the Tour Championship last year with a chance to repeat as winner of both the tournament and the season-long playoff race.

But a funny thing happened along the way. Haas failed to qualify for the Tour Championship. He missed the cut at The Barclays, the first FedExCup Playoff event, then finished tied for 35th and 45th in the following two tournaments.

That left Haas 32nd on the points list, with just the top 30 qualifying for the Tour Championship. He was the fifth straight Tour Championship winner who failed to qualify the following year to defend his title.

Haas is well on his way back to making the season finale, as is reigning FedExCup champion Brandt Snedeker, who would be the first in FedExCup history to do so. They are seventh and third, respectively, on the points list.

The victory on Sunday put Haas in the same company as Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose as the only players with at least one win in each of the last four seasons.

Earlier this year, Haas had three straight top-10 finishes, and five in a seven-event span. But in his last five starts, he had three missed cuts. In his other two events, Haas shared fourth at Memorial, then won this weekend at Congressional.

The 31-year-old Haas is now battling for best in the family honors with five PGA Tour titles. He trails his father, Jay, who has nine PGA Tour victories as well as 16 Champions Tour titles, and great-uncle Bob Goalby, who has 11 PGA Tour wins and two Champions Tour victories.

Surely, the younger Haas will settle for being the best on tour this season.

MINI-TIDBITS

* One of the rules at most golf courses is to observe proper etiquette while on the course. That was tossed out the window twice on Saturday. First D.H. Lee gave the 12th hole at Congressional a one-finger salute - I'll let you guess which one - after making bogey. Then at the U.S. Women's Open, Jessica Korda fired her caddie in the middle of the round. Thankfully, her boyfriend and aspiring tour player Johnny DelPrete was there to carry the bag the final nine holes. Manners, people.

* Local club pro Michael Bembenick posted a 31-over-par 103 in the second round of the Web.com Tour event in Indiana on Friday. I've been on this job for over a decade and don't recall anyone ever shooting over 100 in a professional event before that. He told Golf Channel afterward, "It was important to lead by example and show kids that no matter how bad it gets, it's important to finish." Kudos to him, but I guess Michelle Wie didn't get his message. Wie withdrew with one hole remaining in her second round at the U.S. Women's Open. The round was finished on Saturday morning after fog rolled in late Friday, but Wie bailed since she was four strokes over the cut line. Wie needs to be better than that.


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