Pressure no problem for Park In-Bee
Park In-Bee during the third round of the CN Canadian Women's Open in Edmonton, Alberta on August 24, 2013. She says that pressure has become "a friend" since she won the Evian Masters in France.
Now named the Evian Championship and upgraded to major status -- the fifth on the women's calendar -- it is a suitable stage for Park's bid to become the first golfer to win four of the big events in one incredible season.
The 25-year-old world number one won the first three majors -- the Kraft Nabisco, LPGA Championship and US Women's Open -- before finally succumbing to the pressure at the Women's British Open at St Andrews last month.
"But the pressure at the British will definitely help me here," said the player who won the 1988 US Women's Open as a teenager before suffering a four year winning gap that ended at Evian last July. "I couldn't go through anything as hard again.
"Winning this title last year gave me a lot of confidence. There were hard times during the four years between wins. More than 100 tournaments and sometimes I wanted to give up and do something less stressful.
"But I stayed patient and waited for my time to come. I still believed in myself."
Since last year, the Evian course has been totally revamped in readiness for its new standing in the game.
"Evian has always been special to me, so it is not too different now it is a major," Park continued. "I like the changes to the course.
"A lot of the holes are longer and there are more bunkers and bigger greens. The 18th has been changed from a par five to a par four and that has made it really challenging.
"I'm looking forward to defending. I feel a lot more comfortable than I did at the British Open. But it would still be huge to win a fourth major and I want to do it."
American Stacy Lewis, the world number two and Evian runner-up for the past two years, and world number three Suzann Pettersen, the Norwegian winner of the LPGA's Safeway Classic in Oregon two weeks ago, will be among Park's major threats.
Pettersen was one of the stars of Europe's Solheim Cup win -- the first on US soil -- in Colorado last month, and she said: "It has been a great few weeks and we are all still on a high.
"It is always special to do something that has never been done before and I was so proud of our young team, the new wave of talent coming through European women's golf."
After two close misses Lewis is hoping to make it third time lucky in France. She won the Women's British Open last month -- but then suffered the Solheim low.
"I've got really great memories of Evian and I'm trying to keep up with In-Bee," said the 28-year-old. "Winning the British was awesome and it would be cool to win another major this season."
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