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Park enjoying view from the top

Updated: 2014-03-08 08:43
By Tym Glaser in Haikou, Hainan province ( China Daily)

Life looks pretty good to Park In-bee from her lofty perch as the world No 1 women's golfer - and the talented South Korean doesn't see the view changing any time soon.

After a seven-year trek to the sport's summit, the four-time major winner feels the heat is off and she can play purely for fun now.

"I don't feel any pressure being world No 1; I have been there since last year (15 April) so there is really nothing to lose for me," Park said at Mission Hills Haikou, where she is taking part in the World Ladies Championship.

"I will just continue trying my best and if that is as No 1 or No 2 or whatever, that is still very good.

"As long as I am happy playing golf and having fun, that's the main thing.

"Getting to No 1 is tough it took me seven years. Staying there for seven years would be just as tough, but the most important thing is being up there, because that gives me a lot of confidence."

Life on the pro golf tour can become a grind: living out of a suitcase for months on end in search of victories and valuable points on the march toward joining the elite - or just staying among them - but Park takes it all in stride and has struck a comfortable balance.

"In my down time I like to watch dramas and movies. Sometimes I swim. I have my fianc with me, so I am not lonely on the tour," she said.

However, Park said it's a case of different strokes for different folks.

"Obviously you are tired after a round, but if you have the energy and like going out, there are a lot of things you can do on the road. It can be what you make it.

"The most important thing I would tell any young golfer is to make sure you are enjoying what you are doing."

Not all golfing mountains have been conquered by Park; there are still more majors to win and, of course, the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, where the sport will make its return to the Games after a 112-year hiatus.

"The Olympics is now one of the most important goals in my golf career and I definitely want to represent my country in 2016," she said.

"I think it will be a very great opportunity. Whether or not I won a medal, I would be very pleased to just be in an Olympics it is simply a great honor to represent your country," said the 25-year-old Park, whose other sporting passion is skiing.

She also sees a potentially tricky adversary in 2016, beyond the usual US and the European powers.

"I see Chinese golfers getting better and better and they will have a lot of good players come the Olympics in 2016."

Eventually the time will come when Park's bubbly enthusiasm for the game will fizzle out and she will have to look to life beyond fairways, greens and bunkers, but that's still a long way off.

"I haven't thought anything about life after golf because I am just so busy playing," said the apparently indefatigable star after co-hosting a training session for youngsters soon after completing a tough round at the massive Blackstone Course.

"I'm getting married this year so I am going to try to be very good in married life and enjoy an ordinary lifestyle."

(China Daily 03/08/2014 page16)