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Men’s Interest Mixed On Inbee

PARIS | “What do you think of Inbee Park?” It was a natural question to ask of the men who had gathered for last week’s Alstrom Open de France. After all, the Korean had just completed the staggering feat of winning three majors in a row and will be trying for a fourth at the Women’s British Open at St Andrews. True, Tiger Woods had won four professional majors in a row across two seasons but this was different, with Park having the chance to bag four in a single summer – and of making it five now that the Evian has major status. Simon Wakefield, a thoroughly good sort in so many ways, was struggling to share in the excitement. Rather did he look a tad confused. “Inbee Park,” he said, repeating the name in slow motion as he sought inspiration. “I’m afraid I’ve never played there.” It was an answer to mirror, more or less precisely, what Sandy Lyle said all those years ago when he was asked what he thought of Tiger Woods. Wakefield’s reaction dictated that the question should get another airing. Pablo Larrazábal – there are few more entertaining souls in golf than he – was a willing recipient. “Inbee Park, what’s HE done?” he asked, eagerly. On being advised that Park is a SHE and that she had won three majors in a row, he apologised, profusely. “I am sorry, I don’t know 100 percent about her and that is bad.” The Spaniard put his head in his hands by way of feigning shame. Annika Sörenstam used to keep the men of Scandinavia firmly in their place in the days when she was clocking up her 10 majors. Yet it would appear that they are no longer as impressed by the female of the golfing species as they once were. Thomas Bjørn, who putts left-hand-below-right like Park and is putting pretty well himself at the moment, had not been even momentarily tempted to follow the Korean’s progress on TV. “The only events I would ever watch that I wasn’t involved in myself would be The Masters and the Ryder Cup,” he said. He added, tongue-in-cheek, that if news came that Park was about to win a fourth major, he would catch up with the results on the Sunday evening. Next up was Ian Poulter. He denied all knowledge of Inbee Park before suddenly changing his tune. “She’s won three majors – and the reason I know that because someone told me this morning.” Poulter had much the same cheerful explanation as Bjørn as to why he was not in the picture: “I don’t watch golf on TV. I have four children and I have a life.” In Robert-Jan Derksen, we finally had a man who would seem to have embraced equality in our thoroughly unequal game. Not only was he aware of Park’s performance but he told of having stood transfixed at this year’s China Open as little Asian girls – aged 7 or 8 – took to the putting green each night. “They were there for hours with their parents standing beside them and they were hitting putt after putt after putt.” (Derksen said it is hardly what he would want for kids attending his putting academy in Holland, though he was beginning to wonder if anything less would be enough in this new golfing era.) Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño similarly demonstrated a well-rounded interest in his chosen sport.


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