Park refreshed, relaxed at NW Arkansas Championship after winning 2nd major of the year

  • Article by: KURT VOIGT , AP Sports Writer
  • Updated: June 20, 2013 - 6:20 PM

ROGERS, Ark. — Inbee Park took a week of rest and relaxation after her last tournament. She earned it.

The LPGA's top-ranked golfer, who has turned the tour into a personal showcase of sorts this year, was last seen two weeks ago — walking away after a grueling 39-hole final day at the LPGA Championship.

Park outlasted Catriona Matthew in a three-hole playoff to win her second major championship of the year, and secure her standing as the world's best player. The win was yet another reminder of just how far she has come in the last year, from 26th in the world rankings to six wins in her last 22 starts — including four victories this year.

Park will tee off Friday at the NW Arkansas Championship after a week in Florida with fellow South Korean Na Yeon Choi, a much-needed bit of rest after the difficult LPGA Championship win.

"Two weeks ago at the (LPGA Championship) was a very tough Sunday, and I was really exhausted after the round," Park said. "I feel very refreshed now coming here this week after a week of break, and I feel ready to go again."

This week's tournament, in its sixth year as a tour stop, features 97 of the top 100 players on the money list — a standout field leading into next week's U.S. Open. Ai Miyazato won the event last year at Pinnacle Country Club, shooting a final-round 65 to overcome a five-shot deficit for the second win of her career.

Park finished in a tie for 4th at the NW Arkansas Championship last year, beginning a stretch of 10 straight top-10 finishes. The run included a win at the Evian Masters, her first victory since the U.S. Open in 2008, and served as a precursor to a 2013 that has been nothing short of spectacular.

She opened the year with a win in Thailand before winning the second major of her career at the Nabisco Championship in early April. That moved Park ahead of Stacy Lewis and into the top spot in the rankings, and she's taken control with two more wins and more than $1.2 million in earnings this year.

"I feel more pressure than before, of course," Park said. "I always thought that I was very fortunate to actually play for No. 1 every week, and I think that's something very special and I think that's something that I really need to take positive. No. 1 is a tough spot, but I've just got to try to enjoy it as much as I can."

Park will compete for the spotlight this week with local favorite Lewis, who played collegiately at nearby Arkansas.

Lewis, a Texas native, ascended to the top spot in the rankings following back-to-back wins earlier this year. She is still No. 2 and third on the money list with nearly $750,000 in earnings, but even she admitted that it's been difficult to concentrate on her own game while Park has left the field in her wake.

"You're definitely watching what she's doing, because she's doing something special," Lewis said. "Inbee's played great this year. It's a little frustrating because I feel like I've played really well, but it's gotten overshadowed quite a bit by what she's done. All you can do is take care of yourself, and whatever happens from that, happens."

Lewis earned an unofficial win as an amateur at the NW Arkansas Championship in 2007, an event that was shortened to one round due to rain. Since then, she has struggled near her adopted home, finishing in an average of 23rd place.

Lewis' highest finish was eighth in 2009, but she struggled to a 49th-place finish last year — a position she hopes to improve upon this week in front of her loyal following.

"It's my biggest event that I want to win, this side of a major," Lewis said. "I think the last few years, I definitely put a lot of pressure on myself that I really, really wanted to play well. I've learned from becoming No. 1 and over these last few months that you can't play that way ... I feel like I'm putting less pressure on myself this year."

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Washington 102 FINAL
New York 91
Oklahoma City 114 FINAL
San Antonio 106
Cleveland 91 FINAL
Miami 101
LA Lakers 93 FINAL
Chicago 113
Golden State 86 FINAL
LA Clippers 100
DePaul 69 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 72
Ohio 58 FINAL
Nebraska 71
Colorado 66 FINAL
Hawaii 69
George Washington 60 FINAL
Wichita State 54
Central Mich 48 FINAL
Western Ky 49
Fresno State 6 FINAL
Rice 30
Illinois 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 2:30 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close