Inbee Park has good reason to be patient with her caddie at this week’s AIG Women’s Open.
With only players and caddies allowed to travel to Royal Troon due to COVID-19 restrictions, Park decided to select her spouse, Gi Hyeob Nam, as her bag man, rather than her usual on-course assistant Brad Beecher.
However, the seven-time major winner appreciates the decision to team up with Nam, who was her swing coach before the pair got married, may make her job slightly tougher in some aspects.
“It’s a really different set up,” said Park. He’s not a professional caddie, so sometimes he gives me the wrong yardage.
“Sometimes when it rains, he can’t really do a lot of things at once. He makes mistakes, but he gives me a lot of comfortable feelings on the golf course. And especially when I’m not swinging well or not stroking well, he can give me advice straight away at the course and fix it straight away.”
Park added with a smile: “I kind of teach him what to do because sometimes he adds numbers when he has to subtract numbers, so that sometimes gives me a 20-yard difference! Most of the time I kind of realise it; I think, this looks a bit less than that. He gives me the right number then.
“When Brad’s brother got married, he caddied for me once in an LPGA tournament, and he caddied for me a couple of times in Korea.
“It’s fun. He’s never really made like a major mistake yet, but everything is forgiven. He’s my husband!”
The winner of the 2015 AIG Women’s Open at nearby Turnberry, Park is not concerned about the prospect of poor weather this week, with strong winds and rain forecast for the opening two rounds.
“I don’t think anyone really enjoys windy and rainy weather, but I really have good memories of Scotland and of England, because I just love playing on these golf courses,” she said. “The weather is really part of it. I mean, it’s just really weird to play in good weather in an AIG Women’s Open.
“I'm really expecting to see Scotland weather this week. On Monday and Tuesday it wasn't windy and it wasn't cold, and it was so calm. I was like, should I really play a practice round? Because it's going to play totally different. It's going to be a different setup if the wind blows.
“But I really enjoying playing in the wind and the rainy conditions, because it's kind of a once-a-year thing, so I'm excited to see that, as well. Nice weather would be nice, but I really don't think that's going to happen. Whatever comes, we just deal with it.”
“I'm really expecting to see Scotland weather this week!” Inbee Park
Park won her previous event on the LPGA Tour this season back in February, at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, but this week represents her first tournament outside South Korea since the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the golfing calendar.
She initially had reservations about travelling to the AIG Women’s Open, but she is now delighted she made the trip to an event being staged behind closed doors for safety reasons.
“I was really worried about travelling and I was worried about going to different hotels and different airports and just travelling, I thought it was quite dangerous,” she explained. “But just coming here and being in a tournament site and the hotel, they are doing a great job of sanitising everything … and a great job of keeping everyone from outside the community.
“So I really feel safe being in the golf tournament at the moment. You've just got to be careful when you travel, and just try to have less contact with a lot of people. I think that's what we can do.”
“I was really surprised because I thought coming to this week would be really, really different with no people or media and really nobody; I thought it probably wouldn't feel like a golf tournament.
“But I came here and saw the atmosphere, and it actually really feels like a championship. The golf course is in really, really good condition. It’s a good set up, so I'm really excited to go out there and play.
“My game feels good. This is the type of golf course I really love to play, so I'm really happy to be here finally seeing some people and playing some golf. It's really exciting."