I’ll be watching defending US Women’s Open champion Inbee Park closely when she tees off next Thursday, June 19, at Pinehurst #2. Park, who held the top of the women’s world rankings for 59 weeks even though she languished below the top of the leaderboard in event after event after her 2013 US Women’s Open victory, pulled that winning game out of her bag last weekend at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic in Waterloo, Ontario and has me now musing about the possibility, even the probability, that Inbee’s back in form!
Business Insider has included Park on a list of 30 heavy-hitting women who are changing the world, listing her at #10, right below engineer Debbie Sterling, founder and CEO of GoldiBlox and right above Facebook COO Sheryl Sandburg, whose Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead is upending public gender stereotypes. Oh, and by the way, the other professional athlete on Business Insider’s list, tennis great Serena Williams, is ranked 22nd and Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellin heads the list.
How did her ascent to the top of the world golf rankings and extraordinary influence on global perceptions of gender and professional athletics start for Inbee Park? As a nine-year old girl she watched on television from Seoul as LPGA rookie Se Ri Pak won the US Women’s Open in 1998. Two days later Inbee Park picked up a golf club and started swinging.
Park worked hard and her talent developed. Her family moved to the United States to facilitate her development as an athlete. She played her way through the American Junior Golf Association circuit and five times was named Rolex Junior All American.
In 2006, after she graduated high school, 17-year old Park requested permission from the LPGA to attempt to qualify for the Tour. She was denied, so turned to the Duramand Futures Tour, where she recorded eleven top-10 finishes and earned an LPGA Tour exemption for the 2007 season, starting her pro career at the world ranking of 321st!
In her second season on Tour 20-year old Park won her first US Women’s Open, defeating the legendary Helen Alfredsson by 4 strokes at Interlachen Country Club in Edina, Minnesota. Park’s second Open victory came in 2013 at the Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, New York.
Park has ten professional victories on her resume and going into the 2014 Open she’s ranked first on the Tour in putting average (28.76 putts per round), second in putts per GIR, and third in scoring average.
Inbee Park told Business Insider that her favorite number is 1 because “that is what I want to be and where I wish to stay.” Her determined aspiration to consistently deliver her personal best serves as a resonant reminder that public success begins with a private and personal commitment to excellence.
Play on, Inbee Park, and play well!