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Winning six times before the end of July and sweeping through the first three of the LPGA Tour’s five major championships has brought a level of celebrity that is new, and a bit unsettling, to Inbee Park.
“A lot of people want little pieces of me,” Park said Tuesday at Highland Meadows Golf Club.
And some want big pieces.
In addition to dealing with local on-site media, Park has been on ESPN, the Golf Channel, and Today, sat down with Sports Illustrated, taped interviews for two major U.S. networks that were dispatched to affiliates throughout the country, conducted lengthy conference calls with reporters worldwide, and taken part in lengthy interviews with newspapers in her native South Korea.
And that is all since winning the U.S. Women’s Open two weeks ago.
“I don’t know how Lorena [Ochoa], Annika [Sorenstam], or Yani [Tseng] did it for such a long time,” Park said. “I start to feel like it’s getting a little bit too much.”
But she understands that “it’s such a good opportunity that I’m having at the moment. I’m trying to enjoy [it]. This is what comes with playing good golf; this is what comes with, you know, winning great tournaments.”
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Park, the No. 1 player in the Rolex World Rankings, had won three straight tournaments entering last week’s Manulife Financial LPGA Classic in Canada. She carded four rounds in the 60s, but finished tied for 14th.
The reaction to her not winning was almost shocking, it seemed.
“I played great last week,” she said, smiling. “My putts didn’t fall in as much as I wanted, but I hit the ball great. I shot 16-under for four days.
“That’s a very low number. A lot of people just played better than me.”
She admits, though, that because she has won so often this year that “people expect a lot more from me.”
It will be no different in the Marathon Classic that begins Thursday at the Meadows. In four appearances here, she has missed the cut, tied for 25th, finished sixth, then notched third place a year ago. It is an upward arc.
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GOOD FORTUNE: So Yeon Ryu arrived in northwest Ohio during the weekend and dined at a local Chinese restaurant.
The 2012 Jamie Farr Toledo Classic champion cracked open a fortune cookie during the meal.
The message inside read: “You will get what your heart desires.”
In Ryu’s mind, the message was right on time.
Ryu closed last year’s final round with a 62 that included six straight birdies to finish the event at 20-under par. She’s hoping to win for the second straight year.
“My heart desires I really want to win the tournament,” she said. “So hopefully I can get another trophy here.”
Ryu, who was the 2012 rookie of the year, is ranked fifth on this year’s money list and fourth in the player rankings. She’s also ranked in the top 10 in seven statistics categories on the LPGA tour .
“Every year is different. Every tournament is different,” she said. “So just forget about last year and then just focus on now.
“Think about what I can do right now.”
PRO-AM EVENT: The official LPGA pro-am for the Marathon Classic will be staged today at Highland Meadows with tee times running from 6:50-9:10 a.m. and 12:10-2:30 p.m. Play will begin off both the Nos. 1 and 10 tees.
Tee times for some players of interest include Stacy Lewis (8 a.m., No. 1); Natalie Gulbis (8 a.m., No. 10); Inbee Park (8:10, No. 1); Lexi Thompson (8:20, No. 10); Michelle Wie (8:30, No. 1); Yani Tseng (8:40, No. 1); defending champion So Yeon Ryu (8:50, No. 10), 2012 runner-up Angela Stanford (9 a.m., No. 1); Paula Creamer (12:20, No. 1); Christina Kim (1:40, No. 10), and last week’s LPGA winner, Hee Young Park (2:10, No. 10).
LOW SCORES: Brooke Pancake’s team captured low gross in the Brooks Insurance/Health Care REIT pro-am event Tuesday at Inverness Club. Her amateur partners — Charles Herman, Bill Kaplan, John Getchey and Bill Petty — helped produce a score of 53.
Lisa Ferrero and amateur partners Erik Dunbar, Terry Awls, Phil Noble, and Bryan Miller won low net with a score of 50.
Monday’s ProMedica-Hyland-Heidtman Steel pro-am at Highland Meadows was won by teams headed by LPGA pros Amanda Blumenherst and Laura Diaz.
Blumenherst and her amateur partners — Andrew Berenzweig, Tom Geiger, Jr., Ben Geiger, Jr., and John Cox — won low gross with a score of 56.
Diaz’s team won low net honors with a handicap adjusted score of 49.41. Her partners included Frank Barone, Kathy Hanley, Dan Dessner, and Bill McDonnell.
— Dave Hackenberg and Donald Emmons