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Park’s Courageous Road to Hall of Fame

Inbee Park

It wasn’t Curt Schilling’s bloody sock or Tiger winning the U.S. Open on a broken leg, but those comparisons don’t diminish the gutsy performance Inbee Park put on at Sahalee Country Club last week.

Park needed just one round to qualify for the LPGA Hall of Fame, which requires inductees to compete for 10 seasons. Ten starts constitute a season and the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, where Park was a three-time defending champion, put her over the hump. Once she tapped in on 18 on Thursday, she was officially the youngest player, at age 27, to make it into the Hall.

That was far from a formality. With her left thumb wrapped in more blue tape than most housepainters use, Park made no promises before heading out.

“It’s inflammation in the tendon and the ligament (of the left thumb),” she said. “It’s hard because I use it every week. And even if I don’t play golf, I use my hand. It’s not a big pain like back pain or knee pain. It’s just a little part of your body bothering you just enough to affect the swing.”

She could have shot anything. In her two previous tournaments, Park withdrew after opening rounds of 74 and 84. She hadn’t broken 70 since the last day of March. Most people expected her to shoot around 80 on Thursday, especially on the narrow chutes of Sahalee, a course so tight even the trees get claustrophobic and stretch to the sky for room.

That’s what made her opening 72 so remarkable. She bunted one shot after another with slow half swings, pecking her away around on willpower. She played seven holes before missing her first fairway or green and, when she did miss, the putter that helped her win 17 tournaments including seven majors, kept her around par.

“I didn’t see that round coming,” LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said as Park finished on Thursday and was hugged by fellow Hall members Juli Inkster and Karrie Webb.

None of us did.

“I feel truly blessed that my thumb and my body and my mind and everything really held up,” Park said. “Last year at (the) CME (Tour Championship) I thought this moment was going to come very, very quickly. It was only 10 tournaments away. (The injury was) nothing I ever expected. But I think I really get to appreciate (the Hall of Fame) a lot more after having a tough time in the last month. I really feel like it happened for a reason.

“I realize how much people care, how much love I got from people. That kind of moment was needed to get in the Hall of Fame, I think.”

As for the thumb, it’s never the pain that gets you: It’s wondering when it will come. The fear of the flinch. ….. READ FULL ARTICLE



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