Grace finished the season with ten straight top tens; in her final
event, she rallied from a poor start with back to back 69s to finish
Grace became only the second woman in LPGA history to finish the
season with more than 400 birdies; she was still a few off the record
of Maria Hjorth (408), but that record was set in a season with
at least six more events on the schedule.
Grace also tied the record for most rounds in the 60s in a season
with Kelly Robbins.
Her putting average was among the top five in the league, and her
putts/green in regulation topped the league.
Grace's win at Kingsmill means she has won at least once in every
season on tour. In fact, she has won exactly once in each season.
Grace also had her best scoring average, money total, position
on the money list, and number of top tens ever, and broke a million
in earnings in a season for the first time ever.
She also got her degree via correspondence from Ewha University
in Korea, signed an enormous endorsement deal with Nike, and was
featured in a Rolex and Pantene shampoo ad! AND she was named to
the LPGA Board as a non-voting member.
If Grace Park showed she could live up to her talent last year,
she began to truly blossom this year. She set, as mentioned above,
career bests in scoring average, number of birdies made, number
of rounds in the 60s, money earned, number of top tens, number of
top fives, number of top twos, and position on the money list.
Grace's greatest achievement this year was her enormous consistency.
From start to finish, she managed to contend week after week, compiling
a very impressive 19 top tens over the course of the season, including
ten straight at the end. To compare, Se Ri Pak has only once beaten
that number of top tens for a season, and that was this year.
However, given that she contended probably at least ten times this
year, only managing one victory has got to be a disappointment.
It seems like week after week, she would have that one bad round
that would put her in a position of chaser; or else she would play
really well until the end, then make a couple of key mistakes to
fall out of contention.
Grace's other big problem continues to be her accuracy off the
tee. In years past, her tendency to hit a lot of shots very off
line caused her to not have a lot of top finishes. This year, she
still had that problem, but everything else improved enough to offset
that. If she can lick this problem, watch out.
Her putting in particular has become stellar. It can be said without
much hesitation that she has become one of the best putters in the
LPGA. Length + great putting = a lot of birdies, and for the second
straight year, she was the top birdie-maker in the LPGA. She still
does not hit greens with the consistency of a Se Ri or Annika, though,
yet another area she could stand to improve a bit before next year.
Best of all, Grace showed a willingness to work very hard this
year. Her conditioning has never been better, and her practice sessions
are more productive, as she told this reporter at the Safeway Classic.
"I was putting long hours (in) on the course, but I wasn't
really doing anything," she said. "You know, just putting,
not really working on anything; just hitting balls, not really working
on my swing. And I finally decided enough of this."
Another great improvement this year was in her performance in the
Majors. Believe it or not, before this season, Grace had only managed
two top tens in Majors since joining the tour. This year alone she
had three, and she did it in three different ways. At The LPGA Championship,
she managed a spectacular comeback to get into a playoff with Annika
Sorenstam. Just one more break and she would have had her first
Her temper proved to be a problem at times; she still can get into
an angry funk which costs her shots. However, she has definitely
improved in this regard, and also has shown an ability not before
evident to come back from a bad start. The best example of that
was in her lone win, where she had a disastrous first four holes,
yet got her act together and made all the big shots to win it anyway.
What she should work on:
The number one thing Grace needs to do, as has been the case since
she turned pro, is tame her driver. 110th in the league is just
not good enough for a player of her caliber. If she hits more fairways,
she'll hit more greens, and the wins could come in bunches. She
has the talent to challenge for #1, but this is the big advantage
Annika Sorenstam has over her right now.