A TALE OF THREE PARKS
A black spot is usually a bad thing, a place notorious for accidents and crime rates. Hee Young Park, would you believe, did not risk just one black spot but dozens of them. They were over her pretty white shirt and they brought the current World No. 114th nothing but good luck as she handed in a six under par 65. It was a score to leave her a shot behind Inbee Park, the World No 2, on the opening day of the HSBC Women’s World Championship at Sentosa.
Inbee’s performance was altogether more predictable. “Today,” acknowledged the Olympic gold medalist from Rio, “was a great putting day.” And great for everything else besides, with one beautifully crafted wedge following another in paving the way for multiple birdies. She ended up with twin halves of 32 for a 64 which was only a putt away from a 63.
On Wednesday, Inbee had talked about preferring cold weather to hot, weather such as wind and rain-tossed days she knew at Turnberry when she won the most recent of the British Women’s Opens at Turnberry, Today, on the other hand, took in quite the hottest – not to mention the most humid – conditions she has known in all her previous visits to the HSBC in Singapore which, for the record, include two wins.
She was looking forward to getting back to her hotel room where, apart from the cool, she was contemplating some fine Singaporean fare. Every year, the players will tell you that there is nothing they look forward to more than visiting Singaporean restaurants where you can find everything from Peking duck to Scottish haggis. Every nationality is catered for.
Inbee is no different in wanting to go on such sorties with her husband-cum-coach, who just happens to be caddying for her this week. Typically, though, she has been waxing lyrical about how she has been able to enjoy all the good food from the comfort of her room, “thanks to the excellent delivery services”.
Sad to relate, the other Park in the first day news was not enjoying the same good form as Inbee and Hee Young. Sung Hyun Park who won the title at the last time of asking when she closed with the same fault-free 64 as Inbee began her bid for this year’s title, had a disaster of a day.
It was a case of from first in the field to last as she came off the course with a 78 which was 8 over par.
Her problems, which included a couple of trips into the water, had their origins at the end of a glorious ’19 season when she injured her shoulder. Because of it, she had to change her swing and “I really kind of lost how well I used to swing before.”
She took three months out for rest and rehabilitiation, and the hardest part about that was watching everyone else playing on TV when she was stuck at home. On Wednesday, she had sounded confident about the week ahead on a course where she feels so at home but it was not to be. At least, not for today.
Meanwhile, two more South Koreans – Hyo Joo Kim and So Yeon Ryu – are lurking on 67 at a time when the eight South Koreans currently in the World top 20 are vying with one another to make their country’s four-strong side to go to the Olympics in Tokyo.
Inbee is out to defend her title, while the others are all hoping that they might be the ones to make off with the gold medal this time around.