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Golf: Park tunes up for LPGA Grand Slam bid

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

South Korea's Park In-Bee, the world number one bidding for an LPGA Grand Slam, tunes up this week at the Marathon Classic ahead of next month's Women's British Open.

Park has won the year's first three major titles among six victories in 2013, becoming the first woman since Babe Zaharias in 1950 to capture the first three majors in a season.

"This is the time that I really need to keep my game going and sharpen it up," Park said. "Now is not the time to relax. I really want to keep it going for maybe a month, and then I could have as much time as I want."

This week's $1.3 million event in suburban Toledo is the final LPGA tournament before Park's next major test, the Women's British Open at legendary St. Andrews.

"I am so happy to go to the home of golf. That's every golfer's dream, going there and playing," Park said. "That's a golf course where you want to go and play well, and hopefully you can hold the trophy. It's a historic golf course. It's unique."

Should Park win there, she could complete a sweep of all five of this year's LPGA majors by defending her title in France in September at the Evian Championship, an event promoted to major status for this season.

Every new major title has added to the pressure upon Park, who captured the Kraft Nabisco crown in April, the LPGA Championship and US Women's Open in June and non-major crowns in Thailand, Texas and Arkansas.

"First major, I didn't really think about any kind of history or anything," Park said.

"After winning the second one, they just told me I was the third player to win two major tournaments in a row. So now I start to think a little bit about a row of major championships."

With men's golf typically having four events in a Grand Slam, there is a sense that Park will complete a Slam sweep by winning at St. Andrews.

"I think I can treat it like a Grand Slam," Park said. "It's four out of five and I've won the Evian before. So truly, if I win the British Open, I will have put my name on every major trophy."

Saying that, however, Park does not diminish the status of the French event, saying that for her, the $3.2 million event has always been a major.

"Evian, this year it became a major, but the last 10, 20 years that we had the Evian we always treated it like major tournament anyway, so there is no change to us," Park said. "I've always treated Evian as a major."

South Korea's Ryu So-Yeon will try to defend her title this week. Ryu was second to Park at the Kraft Nabisco and Northwest Arkansas Championships and admires what her compatriot has done this season.

"In-Bee is probably a really good role model for all the junior golfers," Ryu said. "She's a really great inspiration to a lot of golfers. She's really famous in Korea right now and really popular worldwide. She has inspired really good things."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130717/golf-park-tunes-lpga-grand-slam-bid