Park will chase 4th straight major victory at British Open
Inbee Park hoped to win a Grand Slam. A career Grand Slam, that is. The single-season variety was just too outlandish.
Yet she'll head to St. Andrews next month for the Women's British Open with a chance to become the first player to go 4-for-4 in majors — whatever that may be called, now that there are five majors in a year.
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"Whether I do it or not, I'm just a very lucky person," Park said Sunday after winning the U.S. Women's Open for the second time.
Park's four-shot victory at windy Sebonack in Southampton, N.Y., would seem to bode well for Scotland, though the world's top-ranked player has won in pretty much every situation this season on the way to six titles, including all three majors and three straight tournaments overall.
Park talked Sunday about how calm she felt, and Annika Sorenstam could only marvel. Sorenstam was the last player to try to win the year's first three majors, in 2005, and she didn't come close at the U.S. Women's Open.
"I was NOT calm," she said with a laugh.
"I know the pressure you can feel, the expectations," Sorenstam added. "She's handled it beautifully. Nothing seems to faze her."
Brad Beecher, Park's longtime caddie, said he's never seen her angry or emotional on the course.
"I think it's because I feel the happiest when I'm at the golf course," Park said. "I feel calm when I'm on the golf course. I think I'm just a much better person when I'm on the golf course. Yeah, outside the golf course, I feel the pressure and I feel what everybody else is feeling. But on the golf course, it's just the golf ball and clubs. And when I have that, it just puts a lot of pressure off of me."
She'll head home to South Korea for a rare visit before the British. Park knows she won't get much time to herself there, but she wants to share her success with the fans who wake up in the middle of the night to watch her play.
St. Andrews, the birthplace of golf, seems only appropriate as the spot for where Park could make history, Sorenstam said.
Park will just have to keep not thinking about that on the course.
"If I knew what I was doing," Park said, "I think I wouldn't be able to stand."
Summer racing back at Gulfstream Park
Javier Castellano's first win as an apprentice jockey after he came to the United States was on a 90-degree day at Calder on July 31, 1997. So he has an understandable affinity for summertime racing in South Florida.
That's one of the reasons why he stood inside the air-conditioned jockey room at Gulfstream Park on Monday afternoon in Hallandale Beach, Fla., wiping away the sweat that was dripping from underneath his helmet, and did so with no complaints. Gulfstream's first summer meet is underway, the latest new chapter for the facility that thinks it can improve the quality of racing by giving both horsemen and horseplayers more of what they want.
"Summer racing is something that hasn't been done in 75 years at Gulfstream," said Tim Ritvo, the track's president and general manager. "We expect to start off slow and try to market it and build a program. This is a longterm commitment. We've built a $1 billion facility to try to generate new growth in the industry, everything to try to reinvigorate the thoroughbred racing industry in cooperation with our entertainment complex."
The meet at Gulfstream — normally a winter-months racing destination — will primarily continue on weekends through the start of the traditional meet on Dec. 1. A racing card for July 4 is also planned, as are ones for Labor Day and Veterans Day.
It's not going to have the lure of Saratoga or Del Mar, and those at Gulfstream aren't thinking otherwise, either. Nonetheless, Monday's eight-race card went off with plenty of fans in the stands, even though no race carried a purse of more than $35,000.
"We're not going to fool ourselves and pretend to compete against Saratoga or Del Mar. Those are iconic racing sites and meets," Ritvo said. "We just think we can do a better job of summertime racing than what's been done. So we're hoping to invigorate summertime in Florida."
The competition at this meet won't just be among horses.
Calder, located just a few miles away from Gulfstream in Miami Gardens, Fla., also runs during the summer, so the two tracks will go head-to-head by offering live racing cards simultaneously for the first time starting Saturday and continuing on weekends for the foreseeable future. Calder officials said last week that horsemen who ship horses from its track to compete elsewhere in Florida run the risk of losing their stall space there. One day later, Gulfstream announced that it was opening its training center at Palm Meadows and offering other incentives for racing at its facility.
The tracks have been at odds for some time over racing schedules. Time will tell how this move by Gulfstream spices the rivalry and affects Florida racing.
"It's stretches the business a little bit more, but when you have quality racing, that's what people want," jockey John Velazquez said. "That's the most important thing, quality racing, good for the fans and the bettors as well. Makes it fun for everyone."
Gerrans wins 3rd stage of Tour de France
Australian sprinter Simon Gerrans held off a late charge by Peter Sagan to win Monday's hilly third stage of the Tour de France by less than half a wheel. Belgian rider Jan Bakelants did enough in the sweltering heat to keep the race leader's yellow jersey.
■ Monday night's game between the Lexington Legends and the Greenville Drive at Whitaker Bank Ballpark was rained out. The game will be made up as part of a doubleheader Tuesday. The first of two seven-inning games will start at 5 p.m.
The last word
LPGA Tour golfer Paula Creamer commented on Inbee Park, who has won three straight majors:
"You don't even know if she has a pulse out there half the time. Doesn't matter if it's a good shot or a bad shot, I think I've seen her actually smile maybe 10 times."