The hottest athlete in all of sports is the LPGA's Inbee Park, a Las Vegan by way of South Korea. She won the LPGA stop in Arkansas last week, and she's won the first two majors of the year, the Kraft Nabisco (a.k.a. the Dinah) and the LPGA Championship. This week she goes for leg three of the Grand Slam at the mother of all ladies' tournaments, the U.S. Women's Open at Sebonack, on the East End of Long Island.
Park already has one U.S. Open title, earned in 2008 at Interlachen, where Annika S√∂renstam made her farewell to the event. In July the women will gather at the Old Course in St. Andrews for the Women's British Open, the event Park needs to complete the career Grand Slam at the ripe old age of 25.
Now, careful readers of LPGA and Ladies European Tour press releases will tell you that there are five majors for women, the four already cited plus (starting this year) the Evian Championship, played in September. It's a lovely event. It's in France. It has a big purse. But it is not a major. A major is declared by decree, not by a marketing department. This is noted in advance of the U.S. Open because, should Park win it, there should be no doubt: Inbee Park will be going to the home of golf looking to complete the Grand Slam. And even if she doesn't win at Sebonack, she will go to St. Andrews trying to complete the career Grand Slam. It was at St. Andrews in 2000 where Tiger Woods completed his career Grand Slam.
Woods has four wins this season, which is amazing, but you can't even talk about him and Park in the same breath. She has five wins, and is 2 for 2 in majors, while Woods is 0 for 2. She's the golfer of the half-year. Also, the 5'6" Park is loaded with a sort of modest and endearing charm. At the LPGA Championship she talked about steak dinners as a reward for hitting fairways with her driver. When was the last time you heard a PGA Tour player talking about a steak dinner as some special treat? Eisenhower's second term.
At Sebonack, Park, along with 155 other players, will be going to work at a modern (2006) classic. Its views of Peconic Bay are spectacular, its fescue rough is about to go viral, its membership includes a sprinkling of shirttails-out billionaires. How fun. Is this a great time to be Inbee Park, or what?
Before last month's U.S. Open, Gio Valiante, the mental coach of eventual winner Justin Rose, had his talented but underachieving student watch The Empire Strikes Back, with particular emphasis on the scene in which Yoda tells Luke that it's time to put up or shut up as a Jedi. ("Do or do not. There is no try.") With that in mind, SI dug up other cinematic samples that could benefit some of golf's flagging stars.
• PERCEIVED PROBLEM Play has fallen off since he and Caroline Wozniacki became a couple
• BIG SCENE Mickey warns Rocky about pitfalls of standard heterosexual interaction
• MONEY QUOTE "Women weaken legs!"
• PERCEIVED PROBLEM Inability to finish at the U.S. Open
• MOVIEGlengarry Glen Ross
• BIG SCENE The ABC speech
• MONEY QUOTE "Coffee is for closers only."
• PERCEIVED PROBLEM Mental block on weekends of majors
• MOVIEOne Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
• BIG SCENE McMurphy teaches Chief basketball
• MONEY QUOTE "It's an old Indian game. It's called 'put the ball in the hole.'"
CHRIS CARLSON/AP (PARK)
HALFWAY TO HISTORY After victories at the Dinah (shown) and the LPGA Championship, Park is a huge favorite at this week's U.S. Women's Open at Sebonack.
EVERETT COLLECTION (ROCKY, CUCKOO'S NEST)
NEW LINE CINEMA/EVERETT COLLECTION (GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS)