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Inbee Park’s Women’s British Open win sparks ‘career grand slam’ debate

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That Inbee Park had to defend her belief that she completed the career grand slam on Sunday with her three-shot victory at the Ricoh Women’s British Open, was an unfortunate way for the world No. 1 to sew up her seventh major win and fourth different major title.

"That’s been the goal of my career, and I’ve achieved it at the age of 27," Park said about capturing the only trophy that was missing from her grand slam collection. "Just seemed so far and so hard that I couldn’t achieve the grand slam, and I’m here and I’ve finally done it."

Yes, she has, according to the LPGA, which added a fifth major, the Evian Championship, in 2013, and which had to issue a statement explaining why Park entered the career grand slam club even though she won the Evian before it was a major.

"The LPGA endeavors to maintain fair comparisons -- as they relate to major championships and grand slams -- from generation to generation. Despite the dictionary definition of grand slam, when translated to golf it has been widely understood that accomplishing the grand slam has been to win all four major championships.

"The term grand slam was translated to golf 20 years before the LPGA was founded and the LPGA has not always had four majors. We began our major history with three. In some years we competed for two, in some years three, in some years four and now five.

"The LPGA did not add a fifth major championship to change history, alter discussion or make the accomplishment of a "grand slam" more difficult. We added a fifth major to create an incremental opportunity for the women’s game.

"For players (active or retired) who have won four different majors available in their careers, the LPGA has and will continue to acknowledge them as having accomplished a Career Grand Slam.'

"And for players (active or retired) who have won five different majors available in their careers, the LPGA has and will continue to acknowledge them as having accomplished a Super Career Grand Slam.

"Likewise, for players who win four consecutive majors in a single season, the LPGA will acknowledge them as having accomplished a Grand Slam.

"And for players who win five majors in a single season, the LPGA will acknowledge them as having accomplished a Super Grand Slam."

Many observers agreed that Park had earned the right to breathe rarified air with the seven women before her who own career grand slams -- Louise Suggs, Mickey Wright, Pat Bradley, Juli Inkster, Karrie Webb and Annika Sorenstam.

Others, however, not so much.

While the argument will likely rage on until Park claims the Evian Championship title, what is not up for debate is what the 27-year-old from South Korea achieved by coming from behind to overtake runner-up Jin-Young Ko with a 7-under 65 in Sunday’s finale. Her seven-birdie, one-eagle performance that included four straight birdies from holes seven through 10 sealed a 12-under 276 score for the week and her 16th LPGA victory.

"Greatest day of my life yet for sure," Park said Sunday at Trump Turnberry. "It was a great day of golf today. I played great golf out there. Even though I made a couple early mistakes, I was able to hold on really well on the back nine. Obviously got a little bit lucky today. The golfing God was on my side for sure."

In winning the British -- her second major W and fourth overall of the season -- Park has now won six of the last 14 grand slam events. She also became the second-youngest woman to accomplish the career grand slam and is tied for seventh with Webb and Inkster on the career major wins list.

Park also secured the Rolex Annika Major Award, which goes to the player with at least one win and the most outstanding record in the year’s five majors. With four wins in the first 20 of the 2015 LPGA season, Park leads the money list, Race to the CME Globe, Player of the Year standings and scoring average.

Park, who had come up short in eight previous British Open starts, played from behind throughout the tournament until she tied the lead with an eagle on the par-5 14th. An iron shot to five feet led to a birdie on the par-3 16th and her first edge of the week. Jin-Young Ko’s double-bogey after her second shot found the water on 16 cemented the victory for Park.

Lydia Ko, second in the Rolex Rankings, finished in a tie for third in her bid to become the youngest major champion in women’s golf history. With that controversial Evian Championship coming up next month, she has another chance to set that record.