Inbee Park wrapped up an historic season on the LPGA with two top-5 finishes in the tour’s season-ending events -- the first Player of the Year honor ever bestowed on a Korean golfer -- and as the world No. 1. What propelled the seemingly dispassionate "Silent Assassin" to heights she never imagined herself scaling were six wins, a trio of which came in the first three major championships of the year.
"Many people say I look effortless. They also say I'm emotionless. Some people started calling me the 'Silent Assassin,'" Park said after accepting her PoY award last month, according to GolfChannel.com’s Randall Mell. "Just because I don’t show my emotions doesn’t mean I don’t feel anything. What I have gone through this year is more challenging than anything I’ve gone through in my life. The season seemed endless."
Park, who set herself the goal of someday winning a career grand slam and, more immediately, enjoying happiness, found herself in elite company and in the public eye after capturing the Kraft Nabisco, LPGA Championship, and U.S. Women’s Open. Along with the legendary Babe Zaharias, she was only the second player to win the first three majors of the year.
"Trying to put my name next to hers means just so much," Park said after her four-shot triumph over I.K. Kim at Sebonack in June. "I would think I would never get there; it's somewhere that I've never dreamed of. But all of a sudden, I'm there."
In Zaharias’ day, back in 1950, there were just three majors to win. With five, thanks to the elevation of the Evian Championship to choice status in 2013, debate raged as to whether a clean sweep was necessary for Park to notch a true Grand Slam.
"I think the British Open is one I have to win," said Park. "So it would be great if I could win five, but I still think four means a Grand Slam.
"I think four out of five is very big," she added with a laugh.
On the brink of earning an unprecedented fourth straight major in the same calendar year, Park was also suddenly in the same conversation as Tiger Woods and Annika Sorenstam.
"This is just one of the most dominant stretches of golf we have ever seen. It is history in the making today and it reminds you of what Tiger Woods has done, what Rory McIlroy has been able to do in a couple of majors," NBC’s Dan Hicks said during the broadcast of the Women's U.S. Open finale. "It is that level of golf and it only comes so rarely."
Sorenstam, the World Golf Hall of Famer to whom Paula Creamer compared Park, concurred.
"This is an incredible feat," the 10-time major champion remarked during the final-round telecast. "I hope people understand that."
Park did not contend in either the Women’s British Open (she finished 42nd) or the Evian (67th), but she certainly met her own objective along the way.
"More than anything, though, I, the `Silent Assassin,’ am most proud that I kept my eye on the higher goal -- happiness," she said during the LPGA’s annual awards banquet, according to Doug Ferguson. "I found it."