Olympics last reminder of a bad year for South Koreans

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Inbee Park of South Korea takes a dip with an ice pack on the 14th hole during the second round of the women’s golf event at the 2020 Summer Olympics on Thursday, August 5, 2021 at Kasumigaseki Country Club in Kawagoe, Japan. (AP Photo / Matt York)

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The LPGA Tour is about two-thirds of its season behind it and the last of the five majors is set to take place in Scotland next week. So far, the usual dominance of South Korea is missing.

The Olympic Games were the most recent memory of it.

In the five cases where a country had four players in the Olympics, that South Korean team was the only one that didn’t have anyone on the podium. The best placement went to Jin Young Ko and Sei Young Kim, who finished tied in ninth place.

It stands out even more in the majors.

South Korea has produced at least one major champion every year since 2011, a streak that could end if one of them doesn’t win at Carnoustie next week.

The USA leads the LPGA Tour victories with six titles. Nelly Korda has won three of them, not counting her gold medal. Thailand follows with four wins, including a major champion in Patty Tavatanakit. South Korea has three.

End of an era? But it’s still a little early.

“It’s been a tough year for the South Koreans this year,” said Inbee Park. “I just think that the level of the competition is getting stronger, especially a lot of players from Asia – not only Korean, but also powerful players in Thailand and the Philippines. It’s going to be tough at the top. “

Together with Tavatanakit at ANA Inspiration, Yuka Saso won the US Women’s Open and Minjee Lee from Australia won the Evian Championship.

It’s hard not to wonder how much the COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll. Park makes her home in Las Vegas. The rest of the South Koreans stayed home for the most part even after the LPGA tour resumed in late July last year.

Hyo-Joo Kim did not play on the LPGA in 2020. Ko and Jeongeun Lee6 did not compete in America for a full year (Ko returned and won the CME Group Tour Championship).

The South Koreans had seven wins in 2020, the least since eight wins in 2012. Now they only have three, although there is still time.

Park sees the pandemic as the cause, but not an excuse.

“It was a tough time for everyone,” she said. “It’s hard to get going when you take so much time. It’s already happened to us. But it’s not just our problem. We have to improve, that’s for sure. “

EVERYTHING ABOUT THE TIMING

Every shot counts, and you don’t have to explain that to Harris English. He seemed to have the FedEx St. Jude Invitational under his belt until two double bogeys and a bogey on a par 5 resulted in a 40, a shot from the three-way playoff.

The difference can be counted in so many ways.

English is number 8 in the Ryder Cup standings – a win would have put him in sixth place in his bid for one of the six automatic places. He made $ 515,000. He would have made $ 3.3 million more with the win – not just the $ 1,820.00 for the title, but also a $ 2 million bonus for leading the FedEx Cup and those Week is out of reach for any player.

But then the Englishman can say the same about the Palmetto Championship in May, where he shot 40 to the second nine and moved from a chance to win to a draw to 14th place.

It does this every week and, looking back, the players could go crazy. English is about moving forward. That included a trip to Wisconsin on Monday to play Sentryworld. This is Sentry Insurance’s home track, which sponsors the Tournament of Champions, which it won in Kapalua earlier this year.

“It’s like playing a round of golf,” he said as he considered how many different shots could cost a player over the course of a year. “Are you going to be four-footed on No. 3 as much as you are on the 71st hole in a tournament? Everyone wants to be pure in their things in March. But when your back is against the wall, that means more.

“You concentrate more. You take it more seriously. You know what’s at stake. “

Next up is the PGA Tour postseason, two tournaments to the end of Ryder Cup qualification, three tournaments to make an impression as a captain pick if he doesn’t qualify. Ultimately, it’s all about the next week.

“You know that this time of year you will get more rewards for playing good golf,” he said.

ADITI WITH CONTEXT

Nelly Korda played the last two rounds with Aditi Ashok, the 23-year-old Indian who only got one shot near the Olympic bronze medal, mainly because of her putt.

“She has some kind of booty on the putting green and she owns it,” said Korda after round three. “She does well on the putting green.”

As good as Kasumigaseki looked, it was even more impressive on paper. Ashok finished the four rounds with 13,019 puttes, the most reliable putting statistic that analyzes how a player compares to everyone in the field.

According to Mark Broadie, the Columbia Business School professor who pioneered the stroke gain statistic, Brice Garnett is the only player in the Travelers Championship to have a better number on the PGA Tour this year.

Ashok’s performance at the Olympics would have been 10th overall out of all PGA Tour events through 2004.

GREEN JACKET MANUFACTURER

A key figure at Augusta National died last week, even if he never played in the Masters.

Golf Digest reports that Edward A. Heimann died on August 1st in Cincinnati at the age of 83. His greatest contribution to the club was its greatest identity. Heimann was the longtime chairman of Hamilton Tailoring Co. in Avondale, Ohio, which makes the green jackets awarded to Masters champions and worn by club members.

Augusta National co-founder Clifford Roberts found the right man for the job. Heimann rarely acknowledged his company’s role in making the green jacket or granted interviews. In 2000 he once told the Cincinnati Enquirer, “They don’t like it when we talk too much about such things. It’s a club of highly disciplined people who like to keep certain things private. It contributes to the mysticism. “

DIVOTS

Xander Schauffele’s gold medal also comes with a trip to Kapalua. The PGA Tour Board of Directors has decided to give the Olympic Champion a seat in the Sentry Tournament of Champions to kick off the New Year, provided he is a member of the PGA Tour. … Jensen Castle’s win at the US Women’s Amateur earned her a place on the US Curtis Cup team. She joins Gina Kim, Rachel Kuehn, Brooke Matthews, Emilia Migliaccio, Rose Zhang, Rachel Heck and Allisen Corpuz. The games will take place August 26-28 at Conwy Golf Club in Wales. … The Women’s British Open in Carnoustie next week will allow 8,000 fans a day. … The senior course for women’s golf is now called “The Legends of the LPGA”. That would be a bonus of $ 2 million … Peter Uihlein is in 25th place before the final of the Korn Ferry Tour, the top 25 receive PGA Tour tickets for the next season.

STAT OF THE WEEK

Erik van Rooyen at the Barracuda Championship became the first 54-hole leader to win a PGA Tour-approved event since Phil Mickelson at the PGA Championship in May.

LAST WORD

“I don’t even know where that is, but I’m so excited.” – US amateur champion Jensen Castle on her trip to Wales to play in the Curtis Cup.


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