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Park In-bee inducted into LPGA Hall of Fame

All News 10:51 June 10, 2016

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, June 10 (Yonhap) -- With 17 titles that include seven major championships, world No. 2 Park In-bee has joined the LPGA Hall of Fame.

Park was inducted into the hall after completing her first round at the season's second major, the KPMG Women's PGA Championship, at Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Washington, on Thursday (local time).

Park is the second South Korean in the hall after Pak Se-ri, whose trailblazing ways in the late 1990s inspired the likes of Park, 27, to pick up golf.

An LPGA golfer must earn 27 points to qualify for the Hall of Fame, based on victories and statistical titles or season-ending awards. Park reached 27 points in last season's finale, the CME Group Tour Championship in November, by clinching the Vare Trophy for the scoring title.

The last hurdle was to complete the equivalent of 10 seasons, and Park did so by getting the first round under her belt at the KPMGA Women's PGA Championship.

As the three-time defending champion of the event, Park is trying become the first woman to win a major in four straight years.

Park joined the LPGA Tour in 2007 and won her first major, the U.S. Women's Open, in June 2008, making her the youngest champion of the oldest women's major at 19.

After that breakout victory, Park went through an extended dry spell. She didn't win again until July 2012, and then the floodgates opened.

Park ended up winning twice in 2012 en route to capturing her first money title, and reeled off six victories in 2013, three in 2014 and five more in 2015. In 2013, Park became only the second LPGA golfer to win the first three majors of a season. She went on to win her second straight money title and her first Player of the Year honors.

Park completed her career grand slam by winning the Ricoh Women's British Open last August, giving herself a win in four different majors.

Since the tour added a fifth major in 2013, some skeptics have disputed the legitimacy of Park's slam because she hasn't won that new major, the Evian Championship.

Still, the LPGA Tour recognizes Park's feat as a career slam. It says if Park wins the Evian Championship, the achievement will then be called a "super career grand slam." The player herself has repeatedly said she believes she has the career slam to her credit.

Qualifying for the Hall of Fame, on the other hand, has left zero room for debate or controversy.

The former world No. 1 struggled with back and finger injuries in 2015. Prior to this week's event, Park had withdrawn from three out of her nine tournaments this year, with no wins and just two top-10 finishes. She hinted Wednesday she may pull out of this year's Rio de Janeiro Olympics if she's not completely healthy.

In the first round at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship, Park shot a one-over 72 to tie for 23rd, with more golfers still on the course.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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