Joy of Golf: Inbee Park ready to put herself among golfing greats

Joy Chakravarty 05:28 09/06/2016
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Golfing great: Inbee Park.

The major season of golf is upon us. It technically starts with the Masters at Augusta in April, but it is June, July and August when the schedule becomes choc-a-block with the biggest events in golf.

The US Open, the second major of the men’s season, begins next week at the treacherous Oakmont, while the ladies are vying for the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship title at Sahalee Country Club in Washington this week.

There are many interesting things to look forward to at the Women’s PGA, including the fact that world No. 1 Lydia Ko is the only player who has a chance to win a grand slam after her ANA Inspiration triumph earlier in the season. That is an achievement more difficult than in any other sport, including men’s golf, because the LPGA has five majors.

But all eyes will be on South Korean Inbee Park. The former world No. 1, now No. 2, has the opportunity to rewrite the record books as she bids to become the only player to win a major championship four successive times.

If Park wins on Sunday, she will go one step better than two LPGA legends, Patty Berg (Titleholders Championship, 1937-39) and Annika Sorenstam (also Women’s PGA Championship, 2003-05).

The best run among men is four successive wins (Tom Morris Jr at The Open 1868-1872 and Walter Hagen at the PGA Championship 1924-27). There’s a lot more at stake for Park, who just needs to tee off in the tournament to become eligible to enter the women’s golf Hall of Fame.

The LPGA Tour HoF is based on performance and Park, meets every criteria having won seven major titles and 17 LPGA Tour events since turning pro in 2008.

The other player who is bound to be in the spotlight is Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn.

The 20-year-old won her last three consecutive tournaments last month and is hoping to make the most of her hot form and secure her first major title this week.

Tough decision for Maverick

Maverick McNealey is the second highest ranked amateur player in the world.

Winner of the prestigious Haskins Award last year for being the American collegiate circuit golfer, he also happens to be the son of the billionaire founder of Sun Microsystems, Scott McNealy.

Previous winners of the Haskins Awards include Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, and each of them have gone on to have a career in professional golf. But Maverick, who is in Stanford, is not sure.

In a fascinating interview of the father and son done by the Wall Street Journal, Maverick said: “My dad always tells me, ‘To whom much is given, much is expected’. I’m given a huge amount of opportunities, and I feel like it’s my duty to do the most that I can with them. I’m still trying to figure out how.”

And father Scott, who loves to take time off and caddie for his son, said: “Part of the challenge for Mav and the thing I worry about most is will he get intellectually bored after three years, trying to spend eight hours a day on the range, playing six-hour rounds and traveling around like a gypsy?”

I am not sure which way the 20-year-old is going to lean, but I am pretty certain Sun Microsystem does not need him over the next few years. He can easily play a few years of professional golf and then get back to business if he doesn’t like it.

There are no doubts about his academic, or golfing, capabilities, but it will be a criminal waste if golf fans are denied the opportunity of enjoying his immense talent.

The Poulter dilemma

The Ian Poulter situation with the European Ryder Cup team is really interesting.

Obviously, the talismanic Englishman, holder of the best winning record for Europe in the history of the tournament, has ruled himself out as a player for the showdown at Hazeltine.

Captain Darren Clarke wasted no time in securing his services as one of his vice-captains. There can be no arguments about his Ryder Cup credentials, but Poulter has struggled with his form lately. In fact, his last win was way back in 2012, at the WGC HSBC Champions.

Since finishing second at the 2013 Turkish Open, he has had only two third place finishes in the last two years. He has dropped to No. 86 in the world.

But Match Play is a completely different ballgame, and there is every possibility Poulter would have come alive seeing the Americans on the other side.

There was a lot of debate whether he’d be a good or a bad choice as one of the wildcard picks for Clarke. Thankfully, the captain has been saved a lot of thinking.

Internet sensation

Joost Luiten, posted video of two hilarious techniques with new putters – the first one with a ladder around his neck (no kidding!), and the second with a vacuum cleaner. It has become viral on social media. Check out his twitter handle @joostluiten.

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