A brief profile of golfer In-bee Park

This story appeared in KoreaAm Journal, a California-based magazine for and about Korean-Americans and history, news and culture about Koreans living in the United States, South Korea, North Korea and throughout the world.

By ED ODEVEN
(September 20, 2002) — In the past few years, many
Korean ladies have made their mark on the LPGA Tour,
including Se Ri Pak, Grace Park, Gloria Park, Hee-Won
Han and Mi Hyun Kim.

Add In-Bee Park’s name to the growing list of talented
Korean women to earn recognition playing golf in
America.

In-Bee Park, 14, became the second-youngest individual
to win the U.S. Girls’ Junior Golf Championship,
accomplishing the feat on July 27 at the Echo Lake
Country Club in Westfield, N.J., by edging Jenny
Tangtiphaiboontana 4 and 3 in match play.
(Coincidentally, a day later, Gloria Park won the Big
Apple Classic.)

“I can’t believe I won the Girls’ Junior championship.
I’m very, very happy,” Park said after winning the
prestigious tournament. “It was a tough match. She
(Tangtiphaiboontana) is a really good player, too.”

“There was a lot of pressure and I was very nervous,
but I thought I could make it,” added Park, whose
favorite golfer is Annika Sorenstam.

With a steady dose of dedication and determination,
Park is heading in the right direction: to be the
best, like Sorenstam, the Swedish sensation .

The latest Golfweek/Titleist Performance Index lists
In-Bee Park as the No. 1-ranked girls player. The top
20 also includes Jane Park (sixth), Irene Cho
(seventh), Hannah Jun (16th) and Eom-Ji Park (19th).

Park also is testing her skills against older, stiffer
competition. She competed at the U.S Women’s Amateur
in mid-August and advanced to the second round of
match play. She will play in the AJPGA Polo Golf
Junior Classic, Nov. 24-30 at Walter Disney World
Resort in Florida

A Seoul native, Park started playing golf when she was
10. She came to the U.S. with her mother and two
sisters last year to pursue her dream of becoming a
professional golfer.

Park settled in Eustis, Fla., with her family and
began working with Charlie Yoo, a former Golf Digest
Korea columnist who is now a PGA professional in
Orlando, to improve her golf game.

The eighth-grade student attends classes during the
day, practices golf in the afternoon and works on
improving her English with a tutor in the evening.

By all accounts, Yoo’s tutelage is paying off for
Park.

This year, Park has lowered her scoring average to
from 74 to 71 per round; she’s averaging four to five
birdies per round (before she made one or two, Yoo
observed); she’s improved her short game considerably
and she’s added 10 yards to her drives.

A couple recent highlights: She won the 2002 Florida
State Girls’ Junior title, and she won the 11th annual
AJGA Rolex Girls Junior Championship, held June 10-13
on LPGA International’s Champions course in Daytona
Beach, Fla., with a 6-under-par 210 — a two-stroke
triumph over Brittany Lang of McKinney, Texas

“Getting to be No. 1 is tough. Keeping it (the
ranking) is even tougher,” Yoo said. “I just want to
make sure she continues to improve as a golfer. I want
to make sure she stays in the top 10.”

Park’s success does not surprise Yoo.

“When I first met her, I knew she had potential.” Yoo
said.

Many others are now beginning to see that, too.

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