Inbee Park: A walk in the park at the British Open?
The South Korean has won three majors this year. At St Andrews she starts her quest for a fourth – a feat no pro golfer has achieved
It made a beautiful shot, the poster girl of American golf set before the iconic clubhouse of St Andrews. Attention is nothing new to Paula Creamer, a woman who might have trade-marked the colour pink. But on this occasion the meat of the questions were not about her. Grand glam gave way to Grand Slam. Inbee or not Inbee?
That is the only question in this town. Like everyone else associated with the women's game, Creamer was happy to create room for Inbee Park's ascent of the golfing summit, an epic tale worthy of a Shakespeare link, no matter how dubious.
The Ricoh Women's British Open represents the fourth leg of a Grand Slam peak never before conquered. With the elevation of the Evian Championship in September to major status this year, Park would have to triumph here on Sunday and in France to claim a clean sweep.
Technicalities be damned. There is not a woman in this field who is not already staggered at Park's achievement of three majors in a season, a feat chalked up only three times previously. A fourth in succession ought to be Slam enough for any, according to Creamer.
"If Inbee does win this, it's a Grand Slam in my eyes," she said. "Whenever you win four majors in a row, it doesn't really matter what you call it. It's a no-brainer in my eyes.
"Four majors in a row; that's a Slam. We've had five majors in the past, then it went to four and now five again. Who would have said Inbee was going to win three in a row? You could never predict that. After what she has done, whatever happens this week doesn't make any difference to me."
The woman herself went out today in becalmed conditions, as if fate itself were wishing her well in her preparations. There was time for a chat with BBC Scotland in fluent English before she set forth across the home of golf's pristine acres.
After her victory at the US Open on the last day of June, Park opted to return to Seoul to reboot the soul, so to speak, and to pick up a new Ferrari, as you do.
Her wins at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, which took her to the No 1 ranking in April, and the LPGA Championship, one of three in June, drove interest through the roof in South Korea, but it was worth the frenzy to experience familiar rhythms.
"At the moment I think I'm getting a lot of attention from everywhere but, yeah, it's really big in Korea. Everybody is expecting me to play well and I have so many people praying for me and wishing me luck.
"It's amazing how many people are on my side. I think that's to my advantage. It gives me a lot of energy coming into this week, motivates me and gives me inspiration. It's huge everywhere. I can feel it, but we'll see after this week."
Her popularity here will hardly be diminished after her lavish praise of the local cuisine, particularly the Scottish breakfast. "I love the bacon and eggs here. I had some outside the car park. The food was great."
What is not to like about a girl who starts the day fired by a bacon bap? Inbee's culinary conversion was not the only cultural talking point. Carly Booth was almost unrecognisable with her clothes on. Booth is one of only two Scots in the field this week and her profile rocketed with her appearance, naked, in ESPN's annual Body issue last month. Though her modesty was protected well enough, the display was an eye-opener for Pops.
"He was like, 'Well, I didn't realise you had another tattoo.' The one on my foot I've had the longest. I was not going anywhere in the house without socks on for a while. I think he saw it a few times and said, 'What's that on your foot?' I'm like, 'It's a sticker'. I'm sure he believed that for a couple of years."
There is no hiding the second embellishment, a poetic motif on her hip visible in the shoot which reads: It's not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves. "It's Shakespeare," she said. Well, not quite, but who are we to quibble with an adaptation taken from Julius Caesar?
Booth is in the foothills of golfing fame. That is not the case with her compatriot Catriona Matthew, who won this event in 2009 and went close to spoiling the Inbee story at the US Open, where she lost in a play-off.
"It would be an amazing story if she won here, but obviously we are going out trying to stop her. If you can beat her you will be in with a chance."
Home front: Three to watch
Just 17 years old, the Kettering supernova sits an astonishing third in the LET order of merit after exploding into her rookie season with four runner-up finishes. Mind you, she started playing at the age of two and won the UK National Ladies Championship at Turnberry aged nine, so we shouldn't be surprised.
Buoyed playing on home soil across the bay from North Berwick, where she spent her childhood. Her only major victory came in this event four years ago. Among the favourites here after pushing Inbee Park all the way at the LPGA championship in June, where she lost in a play-off.
Still here after all these years, Davies turns 50 in October. Since she burst on to the scene in 1985 after a successful amateur career, her 83 professional wins include four major victories but she has never finished higher than eighth at this event. Not the player she was in the formidable 1990s but remains one of the most popular figures in the women's game.
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