Park In-Bee on form ahead of Open

Washington: South Korean Park In-Bee defends her US Women`s Open crown starting Thursday at Pinehurst after going without a win from that triumph until just 10 days ago.

Park, who fell from world number one to second in the rankings last month, comes to the turtle-backed greens where Martin Kaymer won the US Open on Sunday after a victory in the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic on June 8.

While she has struggled with her putting early this year and not displayed the form that brought her the first three major titles of the 2013 season, Park has found her putting touch by going back to her old form and is less worried about rankings after having been atop them.

"I don`t have the eagerness anymore," Park said Wednesday of the number one spot.

"When I didn`t get there I really wanted to get there. But once I`ve been there, if I play well enough, then I`ll be there. But I`m not going to try to force anything. I`m not going to try to push myself to go up there. If I play well, I`ll be there.

"Because I`ve been there I feel a lot more comfortable, a lot more relaxed. My hope is to have it back by end of the year. That will be very ideal.

"I don`t really look at the rankings anymore. When I was number one I tried to look at it, like who was behind me. You definitely have extra pressure. But I think you definitely have to overcome that to become number one."

Park, who also won the 2008 US Women`s Open as well as last year, has eight top-10 finishes this year but had not broken through for a victory until her final-round 61 in Canada 10 days ago.

"My putter wasn`t working so well the last four months but it seems like it`s slowly coming back, especially in Manulife, especially the final round gave me so much confidence," Park said.

"It was a big win for me. It was really a big confidence boost, especially with the putting, because I just wasn`t able to hole anything."

It has been a tough start for Park, who kept her confidence through the tough times and near misses.

"I try to believe in myself, that the win is not far away. But every week and week, it just didn`t happen," she said.

"After two weeks, after four weeks, it seems like it was taking longer than I thought. So I was probably getting a little bit more frustrated than I should have been, because I put myself in the right position, but I couldn`t hole the putts.

"Considering how I`ve putted in the past, I think this year is probably the worst I`ve putted in a while. Just never struggled with the putter. I never thought that would be my problem."The answer was to go back and watch videos of her success from last year and copy the putting form.

"I just really tried to go back to my old stroke," she said. "I just feel really good about how I putted last year and how I stroked it last year. So I tried to look at the videos of me last year and try to see the rhythm and the putting stroke from last year."

She needs to be putting well as the turtle-backed greens of Pinehurst loom.

"First, you have to try to hit the greens, but obviously it`s really tough to hit the greens. Everybody is going to miss a lot of the greens," Park said.

"It`s a matter of getting up and down from there and having different strategies around the greens. But with the men, they proved that under par is possible. So we should go out there and try to shoot under par."

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