SEOUL (Reuters) – Seven-times major winner Park In-bee has decided to take up her spot with the South Korean team for the Rio Olympics despite a winless season plagued by injury.
The top 15 players in the world are given automatic berths for Rio, with a maximum of four spots available for each individual country, and the final places were decided according to the rankings on Monday.
At number three in the world, Park is the top ranked Korean and assured of her chance to compete for Olympic gold as golf returns to the Games for the first time since 1904 but a troublesome thumb injury had left her participation in doubt.
On Monday, however, Park said she had recovered sufficiently to take up her spot at the Aug. 5-21 Games.
“I have dreamed for such a long time about competing in the Olympics,” she said in a statement. “I have monitored my condition during rehab and practice and the injury to my left thumb has improved a great deal.”
Park’s decision comes as something of a surprise given her struggles this season.
She is without a win in 10 starts, missing two cuts and withdrawing after the first round in three events. She also posted her worst ever score as a professional, 12-over-par 84, in the opening round of the LPGA Volvik Championship in May.
The 27-year-old, who has not played since missing the cut at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship last month, said before that tournament that if she was not fully recovered she would not go to Rio, instead handing her spot to a compatriot.
With 10 players in the world’s top 20 before the U.S. Open, which ended on Sunday, competition for the remaining three spots on South Korea’s team was fierce.
2015 LPGA Rookie of the Year Kim Sei-young (5), last year’s U.S. Open champion Chun In-gee (6), and Amy Yang (9), who tied for third at the U.S. Open on Sunday, grabbed the berths.
(Writing by Peter Rutherford; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)