LPGA Tour: Inbee Park focused on securing Tokyo Olympics spot rather than a return to world No 1

Inbee Park insists that securing her place at the Tokyo Olympics remains a bigger goal than getting herself back to the top of the women’s world rankings.

Park has posted top-15 finishes in her first four starts of the year on the LPGA Tour, including a five-shot victory at the Kia Classic last month, lifting her to world No 2 and seeing her close the gap on compatriot Jin Young Ko at the top of the standings.

The seven-time major champion is the reigning Olympic gold medallist after winning the 2016 contest in Rio, with Park looking to build on her consistent form and secure her spot in the Korean team later this summer.

“I didn’t know how I got to No 2, I just played good golf for a little bit and then I am almost to the top,” Park said ahead of the HSBC Women’s World Championship. “I’ve been to the No 1 spot before and I mean, that’s not something that I play for.

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“Obviously this year is a very important year for me with the Olympics in August, and my main goal is trying to qualify for the team. The Korean team is not the easiest team to make.

“I’m just trying to play good golf; everything just comes with it when I play good golf, and I’m just trying to play week-by-week. It’s a long season. I’m just trying not to get too quick with the season.”

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This week’s event is the first LPGA Tour tournament in Asia since the Covid-19 pandemic, with Park – the winner in 2015 and 2017 – one of six players from the world’s top ten in action in Singapore.

Lydia Ko is also in the field after ending her three-year winless at the Lotte Championship earlier this month, with the New Zealander looking to bounce back from a surprised missed cut at last week’s Hugel-Air Premia LA Open.

“Good and very bad in the span of two weeks,” Ko admitted in a pre-tournament press conference. “But you know what, even in L.A I had a really rough first day but I played solid on the second day.

“I feel like I’m still coming in with good momentum and winning in Hawaii definitely built the confidence for me to say that, hey, you know, I can be back in the winner’s circle. It’s great to be in that kind of a position again.”

Watch the HSBC Women’s World Championship throughout the week live on Sky Sports. Live coverage begins on Thursday from 6am on Sky Sports Golf, Sky Sports Main Event and – for free – on the Sky Sports Golf YouTube channel.

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