Park driven to protect No. 1 spot in women’s world golf rankings

Posted Tuesday, Apr. 23, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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More information North Texas LPGA Shootout Thursday-Sunday for tournament rounds, Las Colinas Country Club, Irving TV: Golf Channel. Thursday round (11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.); Friday round (5:30-7:30 p.m.); Saturday-Sunday rounds (2-5 p.m.) Tickets: Available online at NTShootout.com. Prices are $25 daily, $75 for weekly tournament pass.

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Inbee Park, winner of the 2013 Kraft Nabisco Championship, is two weeks into her reign atop the women’s world golf rankings.

Ideally, the 24-year-old would like to put some space between herself and her closest pursuers at this week’s North Texas LPGA Shootout. But she knows the quality of the field in Irving, where 49 of the season’s top 50 money winners are entered, lends itself to turnover at the top if she has a bad week.

“I am concerned about No. 1 just because I could lose the No. 1 spot in one week,” Park said during a Tuesday interview at Las Colinas Country Club. “I try not to think about it too much, but it’s in my mind for sure. That’s something I play for every week.”

Park, a two-time major champion, holds a slight lead in the world rankings over Stacy Lewis, the 2012 LPGA Player of the Year, heading into Thursday’s opening round. Lewis took over the top spot in March from Yani Tseng, now No. 4, and held it four weeks before being passed by Park in a season marked by turnover at the top of the women’s game.

Na Yeon Choi, also entered in Irving, is No. 3 in the latest rankings.

“It would be nice if I could continue for a long time in the No. 1 spot, but ... you can’t be No. 1 forever,” said Park, who finished fourth at last week’s LPGA Lotte Championship in Hawaii. “I’m very honored that I’m one of the five or six players fighting for No. 1 every week. That’s a very special place to be.”

Shady Oaks factor

Angela Stanford, former TCU golfer and Saginaw Boswell High School graduate, said this week’s venue in Irving shares some characteristics with her primary practice facility, Shady Oaks Country Club in Fort Worth.

“You have to watch the slope of the fairways,” Stanford said of the key link between the courses. “You have to pay attention to where your ball is landing and where it’s going to end up. Those are two different things. ... The more you know about this course, the better chance you have.”

Asked about her first impressions of the Las Colinas layout, Stanford said: “I liked it right away.”

Grice confident

Casey Grice, a College Station native who plays college golf at North Carolina, earned her spot in this week’s field by tying for medalist honors at a qualifying event in March. Grice, a junior, shot an even-par 71 in windy conditions and said she believes she can improve on that score while competing as an amateur in her first LPGA event.

Asked about her expectations for tournament week, Grice said: “The goal at every tournament is to try and win. I’m just going to see how low I can do. The first goal is to make the cut, and then win.”

Sister act

Texas golfer Madison Pressel, a senior, earned her spot in this week’s field by sharing medalist honors with Casey Grice at a college qualifier in March. Pressel plans to prepare for her LPGA debut by playing practice rounds this week with her sister Morgan, a two-time tour winner and past major champion (2007 Kraft Nabisco Championship).

“I’ve never been able to play with her in a tournament setting,” Pressel said. “It’ll be weird preparing for a tournament on the same golf course with her. But it’s very exciting.”

Jimmy Burch, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @Jimmy_Burch

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