-- TURNBERRY, Scotland -- There should be no doubt: When we watch Inbee Park, we are watching one of the greats. Already a colossus of Korean golf, her victory in the 2015 Ricoh Women's British Open on Sunday confirms she deserves to be acknowledged as a true legend in women's golf.
It is her 16th LPGA career victory, her seventh major championship and her fourth win of the year. These feats are impressive and yet they actually only scratch at the surface of what she has accomplished.
She has become just the seventh LPGA player to complete the career Grand Slam (distinct from the Super Slam, which requires her to win the Evian Championship now that it has become a fifth major). The names she joins in holding that honor tell you everything you need to know about the place she has achieved in the game. Louise Suggs, Mickey Wright, Pat Bradley, Juli Inkster, Karrie Webb and Annika Sorenstam are not merely the finest players of their own eras, but the elite of all time.
It is also now unquestionably true that her achievements stretch beyond the women's game: She is just 27 years old, and only Tiger Woods and Wright won seven majors at a younger age.
That she now owns seven major championships is in itself remarkable, but consider this: Six of them have come in her last 14 major starts, a mind-boggling run of form, and also, curiously, an exact parallel of Sorenstam's best run -- she won her six in 14 starts from 2002 through 2005.
Only six women now lie ahead of Park on the list of all-time major titles, and Sorenstam's modern-day record of 10 is the obvious next target, with Patty Berg's leading figure of 15 still some distance away.
Little wonder that Park said with a smile: "This is the greatest day of my life for sure."
And yet as everyone around her buzzed with the enormity of what she has achieved overall, Park was focused on a smaller target: "It feels great to finally hold the British Open trophy. I gave it a few cracks and it's just been so hard. This is the birthplace of golf. Scotland is where golf started and this feels like real golf. This is definitely the golfer's most wanted trophy. I set only one goal this year, one and only, and that's winning the British Open. Achieving it feels great."
In aiming small, Park was able to win large. "I said to myself: I can't really push to achieve the career Grand Slam. I was really close and couldn't wrap it up. I had to get myself out of Grand Slam thinking, and playing without expectations really helped this week."
Since the beginning of 2013, only three golfers have won multiple majors: two apiece for Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth, six for Park. It is yet another statistic that puts her efforts into perspective. There are genuine parallels to be made between Spieth and Park: Both have swings that leave coaches scratching their heads, both putt like magicians, both sense opportunity where others smell fear.
The manner in which she hunted down her protege Jin-Young Ko was ruthless. The 20-year-old Ko had bounded around the front nine, laughing with her caddie, pulling her puffa jacket on and off, apparently oblivious to the pressure.
But Park was having none of it. She drained four birdie putts, on the seventh through the 10th holes, to creep up onto the youngster's shoulder, and the turning point came soon afterward. Park nailed a 20-foot eagle putt on the 14th green and seconds later Ko failed to save par from short of the 12th. Immediately Park assumed the role of likely winner and sealed the deal with a stunning approach to the 16th green that guaranteed birdie from just 3 feet.
The ease with which she was able to play the final two holes with a 3-shot advantage was deceptive. After her round, she said: "There were at least 10 times during the week when I wanted to give up."
It is not just the sign of a champion, but of a legend, who refutes such a notion. "When the rain was pouring down, when the wind was blowing, when my 5-iron only went 100 yards, I just felt so bad. I wanted to give in, but you can't give in."
Legends are defined by their putting, by their long game, by their mental strength, and Inbee Park proved resilience also is a quality that must never be overlooked.
Park said that Sorenstam is her idol and it is intriguing to contemplate that the Swede was once asked what motivated her in the tough times. It was, she explained, a memory from childhood when she called her father to collect her from an uncovered driving range because it was raining. He picked her up and, before driving away, paused. "You know, Annika," he told her, "sometimes you have to stay out in the rain." He said nothing more, but Sorenstam understood the message.
Legends don't quit, and at this year's Ricoh Women's British Open, Inbee Park confirmed herself as worthy of being counted among their number.
Matt Cooper is a golf writer from the United Kingdom who has worked for SkySports.com, Golf365.com and SportingLife.com, among others. He edits CuriousAboutGolf.com and is a columnist for a number of print magazines.