Angela Park was born in Brazil. As a young
girl, she moved to southern California, where she grew up.
She took up golf and became one of the top young amateur golfers
in the country, finishing in the top 10 in 24 of the 29 AJGA
events she played. Perhaps her biggest achievement as an amateur
was beating In Kyung Kim at the 2005 US Women's Amateur before
losing to Morgan Pressel in the semifinals.
After Song Hee Kim petitioned the Futures
Tour to lower its minimum age to 17, Angela decided to join
the tour for 2006. First, though, she played in one final
event as an amateur, finishing tied for 15th at the Kraft
Nabisco Championship. She then turned pro and joined the Futures
Tour, where she had good success. By the final tournament
of the year, she had risen to fifth on the money list; if
she could maintain that position, she would earn her exempt
status for 2007. But she did not play that well in the final
event, and someone else got that last card.
If Angela was crushed, she moved past it.
At LPGA Q-School a few months later, she easily earned her
exempt card by finishing fifth. Indeed, she even led the tournament
for a while. So she will have her chance in 2007 to test herself
against the game's best as one of the youngest rookies on
In 2007, Angela Park almost immediately took
control of the Rookie of the Year race. She struggled somewhat
at the first tournament of the year, but at the second, the
Fields Open, she opened the week with a 66 and continued to
stay in contention much of the week, finishing tied for third
in the end. She continued to play well after that, making
every cut and finishing for the most part in the top 25 at
the next 9 events she played.
She returned to contention at the Ginn Tribute
in June, charging out to a first round lead with a 66. She
notched her second top ten there. The next week, she did it
again, seizing control of the first round lead. But this was
a far more impressive time to do it, for it was the year's
second Major, the LPGA Championship. She continued to play
well all week, finishing 5th, her first top ten at a Major.
Her run at the Majors was not done. Just two
weeks later, she once again took the first round lead at a
Major, this time the US Women's Open. The event was plagued
with rain and weather delays. Still, Park found herself in
the lead for much of the first two days. Johnny Miller was
so impressed with her swing that he called it the best in
the entire LPGA. Going into the final round, she was still
near the top of the leaderboard, and rallied towards the end
to put herself close to the win with just a couple of holes
to go. In the end, it wasn't enough, and she finished tied
for second. But two consecutive top five finishes in Majors
gave her a huge lead in the Rookie race, one she would never
relinquish: she went on to become the sixth woman with Korean
blood to win the Rookie of the Year award in the past ten
years. Had she won either of those Majors, she would have
become the youngest in history of either gender to win a Major.
She missed her only cut of the year at the
year's final Major, the Women's British Open, another impressive
record, and went on to notch eight top tens and make nearly
a million dollars. She did not win an event, but she came
close. After the Open, highlights included a fantastic final
round 63 at the Navistar Classic to finish tied for third,
and a week long charge at the Samsung World Championship which
came up short; she finished third there, too. She ended the
year with a wonderful speech accepting her Rookie of the Year
award, and by playing on the losing International team at
the Lexus Cup (she represented Brazil and played against the
Asian squad, meaning she was facing a team of mostly Korean
golfers!). Although her team lost, she won two of the three
matches she played.
2008 started well for Angela Park. In the
first event of the LPGA season, she was in contention to win
when she was slapped with a two stroke penalty for slow play.
The penalty knocked her for a loop, and she would not score
another top ten until April. She really recovered, however,
at the year's third Major, the US Women's Open, where she
once again was in contention, finishing tied for third with
In-Kyung Kim. The next week, she shot her career low score,
a 62, and scored another top ten in Arkansas. A few weeks
after that, she was once again in contention, this time at
the Evian Masters. In fact, she went to a playoff for the
title against Helen Alfredsson and Korean Na Yeon Choi, but
lost on the first hole.
Park struggled a bit after that, but with
more than $800,000 in earnings in her sophomore year, she
showed she was not just a one year flash in the pan.
2009 was a puzzling year for Angela. She started
very well, with three top tens in her first four starts. After
that, everything completely fell apart. A player who missed
almost no cuts in her first two seasons suddenly was missing
them left and right. From mid-May to early November, she did
not make a single LPGA cut. As far as we know, she was not
injured; she simply had a melltdown with her long game. She
only rarely could keep her drives straight for very long.
As it turns out, she was never able to fix
her problems, and in 2010 she abandoned her career and began
working as a hotel receptionist in Los Angeles. In an interview
with a Brazilian magazine, she explained that she had lost
her passion for the game, and without passion she could not
motivate herself to continue. She did not discount the possibility
she would return, but for the time being is finished with
golf, a shocking and sad ending to a career that had held
so much promise just a few years earlier.
In 2012, Angela did in fact prepare for her
return to golf! She appeared at the LPGA's Brazil Cup and
worked towards returning to golf full time, perhaps even the
LPGA tour. She entered Q-School in the Fall, but did not get
out of the preliminary rounds. Nonetheless, every indication
is that she is going to continue her comeback efforts.