Park focused on being No. 1

Originally Published: May 5, 2004
By Nicole Coffey | Special to ESPN.com

Hard work and dedication are keys to success and words LPGA star Grace Park seems to fully understand and live by. Determined to be the best, she thrives on practicing hard to get a good feel for her golf game and to turn her goals into a reality.

Grace Park
Grace Park has won five LPGA titles, including her first major this year at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
Park took a major step toward her goal of becoming the No. 1 female golfer in the world when she won her first major championship at last month's Kraft Nabisco Championship.

The question is, how long will her drive last? Park, who was the LPGA's third-ranked golfer in 2003, hinted that she may not have a long professional career. She would like to achieve her goal of becoming the top-ranked player and then let her personal life take over.

Before defending her title at this week's Michelob Ultra Open at Kingsmill in Williamsburg, Va., here's what Park had to say about her tenacity, about Korean barbecues and about becoming a wife -- someday.

Q: Congratulations on your first major championship victory at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. What was it like for you on the back nine on the final day?

Park: I don't know. It happened so fast. On the front side, starting the final round, I started out kind of rough. I knew I needed to get back into my old self and start making some birdies. Nobody out there was making any moves, so I knew that if I could just get my game together I'd have it. And I did it.

Q: Describe the minutes before you jumped into the lake and what that meant to you. (It is a tradition at the Kraft Nabisco for the winner to do a victory jump into the lake next to the 18th hole.)

Park: Oh, my gosh. After I made my putt on the 18th hole to win, my mind just went blank. I knew that I had won, but it didn't really kick in until later. And I got the trophy and they said, "All right, you've got one more thing left." So I grabbed my caddy and we ran in the water like we had planned. We'd talked about it from the beginning of the week that if we were to win that we would jump in together.

Q: How did your caddy (David Brooker) play a part in your win?

Park: Huge. Dave has helped me tremendously on the golf course. He is so dedicated to his work, and he does a great job at it. Just having him right there supporting me is great.

Q: This is your fifth full year out on tour. How different was it when you were starting out?

Park: Oh, so different. I was so young and immature ... a 21-year-old. I didn't know what I was doing. I thought I was ready, but looking back I was so young and didn't know what to expect. And the life on the road was so much tougher than I ever imagined it to be that I struggled to get used to the life on tour. Now I accept what I have and I work hard at it. I really enjoy what I do. I am always having fun out there, and people tell me that I look like I am having fun.

Q: What are the best things about being a member of the LPGA Tour?

Park: Just having all of the great opportunities to travel. To earn a living at something I am great at. Meeting a lot of new people. Just being a true professional golfer.

Q: Who do you spend time with at night on the road?

Park: I like to keep to myself. On the road, I'm so focused in golf and I spend such long hours on the golf course that by the time I'm done practicing or playing I am so exhausted. I come back to my room and watch TV and sitcoms. Just relax, mainly. And my family comes out (to) about a third of my tournaments.

Q: Tell me about your father's restaurant in Seoul, South Korea.

Park: It's big. It's Korean barbecue. So those of you who know what Korean barbecue is, it's beef marinated or fresh. They cook it right there at your table. The restaurant does pretty good. And every time I win a tournament, he celebrates it by giving 50 percent off to all of the customers. There are huge lines and people get all excited about it.

Q: Does he have TVs in there where they watch the golf on the weekends?

Park: No, but there is (something) that updates all of my scores every day and every week to let the people know how I am doing out here.

Q: Last year you were ranked No. 1 in rounds in the 60s. How are you so consistent?

Park: I don't know. Hard work. I used to be known as one of the wild ones. Shooting 65 (one day), then 75 the next day. I really worked hard on getting my consistency. And as I said earlier, hard work really pays off.

Q: What are your keys to good putting?

Park: Practice, once again. You've got to be comfortable with your stroke. And reading lines and reading greens, you should learn to do it. The more you play, the better you get at it. And if your stroke isn't there, you are never going to make the putt.

Q: Do you work on specific keys to your putting, or do you just practice putting it in the hole?

Park: I practice feel because I am very much a feel player. So I'll putt (from) three feet, six feet, nine feet and so on. And I just putt until it feels good and then I move to the next spot and do it again until it feels good.

Q: What do you wish to accomplish on the LPGA?

Park: Winning many, many tournaments. But I'd like to be No. 1. I've always been No. 1 at every level I've been to, and my next goal is to be No. 1 in the world ... the No. 1 women's golfer in the world. And I'll keep working and working until I get there.

Q: How do you see your future outside of golf?

Park: (Laughs) Just a house ... a wife ... a mother. Just doing whatever I want to do. Not being so restricted. Just being free-willed.

Q: It must be a little tough with traveling to meet people and to build the foundation to become a wife. How does that work?

Park: It is very hard and I haven't started yet or (know) if I will in the near future. But once I retire from professional golf, I will start that foundation. I will wait until then.

Q: When do you plan on retiring?

This is my job. This is something that has been part of my whole life. And becoming No. 1 is my goal. And to do something the best at what I do is my goal. So I work at it to become No. 1.
Grace Park

Park: I have no idea. (Laughs) It's not going to be a long, long time. I like to make it short and sweet.

Q: What motivates you to be the best?

Park: Just being the best. I hate losing and I always like winning. In order to win you've got to practice. You've got to work and everything falls under that category in becoming No. 1.

Q: Is it because you like the feeling of winning? What really drives you to keep working hard and practicing?

Park: I don't know. That's a good question. This is my job. This is something that has been part of my whole life. And becoming No. 1 is my goal. And to do something the best at what I do is my goal. So I work at it to become No. 1.

Q: What type of music do you listen to?

Park: I listen to Korean music.

Q: What's your favorite band?

Park: I don't even have one. I just listen to whatever is good at the moment. I get sick of them pretty fast. I don't listen to a song for more than a couple of months or couple of weeks. I listen to whatever is new.

Q: What are your favorite sport teams?

Park: I don't have one. I don't follow sports at all. I've met some incredible sports legends, and I couldn't name one to you. I have no idea who they were. I assumed they were either football or baseball or basketball (players).

Q: How about outside of golf. What are your hobbies?

Park: I am a shop-aholic. Right now my life is so focused in golf that when I am not playing golf I like to just relax. I like to go out and hang out with my friends. Just do whatever, really; I don't have any specific things that I like to do. I just like to do nothing.

Q: When you go shopping, what do you like to buy?

Park: Everything from Target to Sax 5th Avenue. I don't care where I am. I always end of finding things I don't need. And I love it.

Q: When you are in the offseason and away from golf for a couple of months, what do you miss most about the tour?

Park: I don't. I don't miss anything. The first part of my offseason I am so exhausted and I want to put my clubs away and never see them again, and just spend time with my friends and family. It is usually in December, so it is the holiday season. I go skiing and go on vacation. I do that for about five or six weeks and then I go back to the States and start working again.

Q: What makes you happy?

Park: Just being where I am today. Being able to wake up in the morning knowing that I am healthy and I am here.

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