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Meeting Tiger Woods highlight of offseason for S. Korean LPGA star

All Headlines 14:39 February 14, 2019

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Feb. 14 (Yonhap) -- South Korean LPGA star Park Sung-hyun has had quite the offseason. She struck a new, lucrative sponsorship deal for one, but more importantly -- for herself, at least -- Park got to hang out with Tiger Woods.

"I get goose bumps thinking about that again," Park said Thursday of her meeting with Woods last week in Jupiter, Florida, for a photo and video shoot for their club sponsor, TaylorMade. "When I arrived for the shoot, Woods was there practicing, and I had to pinch myself. I was right next to him and I still couldn't believe I was seeing him. It all felt like a dream to shake hands and talk with someone I'd only seen on television. I don't think I will ever forget that day."

South Korean LPGA golfer Park Sung-hyun speaks at a press conference in Seoul on Feb. 19, 2019, after signing a new corporate sponsorship deal with Bloomberry Resorts and Hotels. (Yonhap)

Park was in town for a signing ceremony with her new main sponsor, Bloomberry Resorts and Hotels. She will now wear the logo of Solaire Resort & Casino, which is run by the Philippines-based Bloomberry, on her hat for two years.

Though financial terms weren't disclosed under a mutual agreement by the player and the company, it's said to be the richest deal ever handed out to a female golfer. Park said she was "grateful" for the deal, which she said has inspired her to achieve some great things on the LPGA Tour.

Over her first two seasons on the LPGA Tour, Park has already accomplished more than what most others aspire to in their entire career. She counts two major championships among her five titles, and she won both the Player of the Year and the Rookie of the Year honors in 2017. She also spent some time as the world No. 1 in women's golf in both 2017 and 2018.

Still, Park said she was still lacking "in many areas."

Cyrus Sherafat (L), executive vice president for casino marketing at Solaire Resort & Casino, and South Korean LPGA golfer Park Sung-hyun hold a new sponsorship contract the player reached with Bloomberry Resorts and Hotels, which runs Solaire, during a signing ceremony in Seoul on Feb. 14, 2019. (Yonhap)

"Over the winter, I tried to fill those holes and have efficient training for the new season," she said. "I felt my ball-striking was a bit off (last year), but I think I got my feel back this year. I was quite satisfied with my offseason training. I feel great about the state of my game."

Park, who will make her season debut in Thailand next week, is currently No. 2 in the world rankings, behind Ariya Jutanugarn. She and Park each won three tournaments, including a major, in 2018, but the Thai star came out on top in the race for the Player of the Year honors, the money title and the tour's best scoring average.

Park, 25, said her rivalry with Jutanugarn can only help her career.

"I think there's so much to learn from her, even though she's younger (at 23)," Park said. "We'll be playing against each other a lot this year and we could be trading places at the top of the world rankings. I trained hard this winter with a goal of climbing back to No. 1, and I am sure she also worked hard to defend her turf."

Park also set a lofty goal for herself in 2019 -- winning a major and four other tournaments.

"Last year, I accomplished my goal of winning three times, and I think I should keep raising the bar every year," she said. "I've won five times over the past two years, and I'll try to win five tournaments this year, including a major."

Tiger Woods (L) and South Korean LPGA golfer Park Sung-hyun prepare for a promotional shoot for TaylorMade at Medalist Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida, on Feb. 6, 2019, in this photo captured from Park's Instagram page. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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