Park brings No. 1 ranking to Lake Merced GC

Inbee Park of South Korea was sidelined for much of last season because of a back injury, but now she is back where her many fans believe she belongs.

The 29-year-old Park has regained the No. 1 spot in the Rolex World Golf Rankings heading into the week’s LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship at Lake Merced Golf Club in Daly City, just south of San Francisco.

The LPGA Tour is returning to the Bay Area after a one-year absence.

“It’s good to be back, obviously, in the No. 1 spot,” said Park, who has led the rankings four times in her career for a total of 93weeks. “That really wasn’t my goal playing this year, it just came as a present. So it’s great.

“But everything, all the rankings are so close together. It can change every week. It’s just hard to keep track. I’m just trying to play golf, and doesn’t matter where I am at. But if I can get back to the No. 1 spot, that’s good.”

Park has four top-10 finishes in six events on the LPGA Tour this season, including her 19th victory on the circuit in the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, a loss to Pernilla Lindberg of Sweden in an epic eight-hole playoff in the ANA Inspiration at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, and a tie for second last week in the HUGEL-JTBC LA Open at Wilshire Country Club in Los Angeles.

Not surprisingly, Park leads the Race to the CME Globe, the Rolex Player of the Year points list and the Official Money standings.

Seven of the top eight players in the world are in the field this week at Lake Merced, including second-ranked Shanshan Feng of China, who was unseated by Park, third-ranked Lexi Thompson, fourth-ranked So Yeon Ryu of South Korea, sixth-ranked Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand, seventh-ranked I.K. Kim of South Korea and eighth-ranked Cristie Kerr.

The field also features local favorites Paula Creamer of Pleasanton, Juli Inkster of Los Altos Hills and San Jose State, Christina Kim of San Jose, Michelle Wie of Stanford, Mina Harigae of Monterey and Mariah Stackhouse of Stanford.

Also entered are Lydia Ko of New Zealand, who won the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic when it was played at Lake Merced in 2014 and 2015, who won the tournament in 2016.

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