Good Evening
Good Evening

Asian players dominate LPGA majors

Inbee Park of South Korea hits her second

Inbee Park of South Korea hits her second shot on the 13th hole during round two of the ShopRite LPGA Classic at Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club. (June 1, 2013) Credit: Getty Images

PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- In a very literal sense, Cristie Kerr is the biggest thing in women's golf right now. Her image, greatly enlarged, is painted on the sides of Hampton Jitney buses as part of a promotion for the U.S. Women's Open at Sebonack in Southampton later this month.

"First time I have ever been as tall as Michelle!" Kerr tweeted on Monday, having posted a picture of the jitney, which also includes pictures of Michelle Wie and the Sebonack clubhouse.

Asked about it here this week, at the women's tour's current major, the Wegmans LPGA Championship, Kerr said, "As long as it's not my previous pictures, I'm fine with it."

She jokes about the times when she was a different kind of big thing on tour. "My heavier days," she said.

Kerr is depicted as one of the more glamorous LPGA pros, although she admits she is not the "media sensation . . . the star on tour" that Wie is.

The truth is, though, that the real biggest thing in women's golf is the dominance of Asian players. Entering the first round of the LPGA Championship at Locust Hill Country Club Thursday, they have won eight consecutive majors.

"It's in our blood," said Inbee Park, the No. 1 ranked women's player in the world and winner of the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the season's first major.

The challenge is getting into the American sports mainstream. Park, who was born in South Korea, appeared at a spirited pre-tournament news conference Wednesday with countrywomen and fellow reigning major champions Na Yeon Choi (2012 U.S. Women's Open) and Jiyah Shin (2012 Ricoh Women's British Open).

All said -- in English -- it is important that the U.S. golfing public gets to know them and their personalities. "I think our names are just tough to pronounce and remember," Park said.

Getting acclimated to the American tour was slightly easier for her because her family moved to Las Vegas when she was 12. Still, when she was in amateur tournaments, she didn't know how to ask someone how to tend the flagstick. "So I putted and I didn't know where the hole was," Park said. Other times, she hoped she would finish second instead of first because it meant she would not have to make a speech.

Annika Sorenstam used to feel the same way, but she has become an American citizen and a spokeswoman for women's golf here. Someday, Park and others might be ingrained enough to see their photos on the side of a bus.

New York Sports