Park In-bee of South Korea hits a tee shot on the 17th hole during the third round of the Tokyo Olympic women's golf tournament at Kasumigaseki Country Club in Saitama, Japan, on Friday. (Yonhap)
SAITAMA -- A dozen shots off the lead by the time her third round was complete, LPGA Hall of Famer Park In-bee will be hard pressed to defend her Olympic gold medal this weekend in Japan.
Park, a veteran known for her stoicism on and off the course, didn't mince words in assessing her own play Friday at the Tokyo Olympics.
"I was really disappointed with myself today," Park said after shooting an even 71 at Kasumigaseki Country Club in Saitama, north of Tokyo. She is three-under for the tournament. By the time she was done for the day around 12:30 p.m., Park was trailing the leader, Nelly Korda of the United States, by 12 shots.
"It's been an exhausting day," Park said. "My ball striking was really sharp today, and I gave myself a lot of birdie opportunities. But I was terrible on the green. It was so bad I don't even want to return to this course."
Park was particularly frustrated with her putting, which is usually her strength. She said she doesn't recall the last time she has putted so poorly for three straight days.
"When I read the line correctly, I didn't have the right speed. But when I had the speed down, I didn't read the line properly," Park said. "I left my putts short, hit them long, and had the ball spin out of the cups. Everything that could have happened on the greens did happen."
Park said she would struggle so mightily on greens perhaps once or twice a year and added, "I never dreamed it could be this week."
As for the final round, which may or may not be played because of a potential rainstorm, Park said, "I'd like to putt a little better to finish my tournament."
Park has had to wait five years since her gold medal in 2016, because the Tokyo Olympics got postponed by one year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The next Olympics in Paris will take place three years from now, instead of the usual four between the Olympics.
But Park, 33, said Tokyo will be her last Olympics.
"Three years may not seem long, but for me, it will be longer than the five years I've spent since Rio," Park said. "I am thinking this will be my last Olympics." (Yonhap)