Inbee Park etched her name in the history books after Sunday’s final round of the Lorena Ochoa Invitational Presented by Banamex as she mathematically clinched this year’s Rolex Player of the Year honor and became the first South Korean to win the award.
“I said all year, there should have been at least two or three girls that already won the award, but nobody really did it,” said Park of becoming the first player from Sputh Korea to earn the honor. “It’s just really hard to believe and I’m just very lucky I won.”
Despite a standout season comprised of six victories, including three major titles at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, Wegmans LPGA Championship and U.S. Women’s Open, Park entered this week’s event in Mexico in a neck-to-neck battle for Player of the Year with Suzann Pettersen who needed to finish third or better to at least have a chance of catching Park for the honor.
Paired with Pettersen in today’s final round, Park fired a final-round, 3-under 69 to finish in fourth and become the 18th different Rolex Player of the Year winner.
“It feels great to be the first one to win,” said Park. “Today was a tough day especially playing with Suzann in the final round. It’s actually kind of good to be playing with her because she’s always a very tough one to beat. She’s very competitive and today was hard but I finally did it. This week’s goal was to go next week stress free, and that’s what I just did. Next week’s just going to be a fun week for me. No more thinking about the Rolex Player of the Year race so it’s going to be fun.”
Park will be presented this year’s Rolex Player of the Year trophy at the Rolex Awards Celebration which will take place Friday, November 22nd at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort in Naples, Fla. While Park was beaming with excitement after clinching the honor, she was overcome with nerves at the thought of giving her acceptance speech.
“No, I haven’t,” said Park when asked if she had her speech ready. “It’s tough to get your emotions in until it’s actually done. I think I need to start working on it. It would have been nice if I had two to three weeks to prepare for it, but it’s only five days and it’s my second language. So yeah, I should work hard right now.”