New Jersey has a comfortable feel for 2018 Cognizant Founders Cup champion Inbee Park and a T2 finish just down the Garden State Parkway at the ShopRite LPGA Classic last week is further boosting her confidence. With the tournament in a new state, at a new venue and boasting a new sponsor in Cognizant, things definitely look and feel different since the Queen last hoisted the trophy. Nevertheless, the Korean is looking forward to teeing it up this week at Mountain Ridge Country Club.
“I feel really good to be back here at the Founders Cup with the great venue, and the golf course is in really, really good shape,” said Park. “I have won the Founders Cup before, so it definitely feels like a totally new tournament with the new course and everything. But it feels great to be back. I played well last week but just came up just a little bit short. It gave me some confidence coming into this week.”
An unfamiliar course playing wet and long requires a lot of mental toughness, nothing unusual for the Rolex Rankings No. 3. But Mountain Ridge poses an extra-daunting test, one that’s a tall order for any player, even a seven-time major champion. Couple a tough Donald Ross design with an increased purse from a first-year sponsor and the Cognizant Founders Cup is shaping up to have a banner year and cement itself as a player favorite on the schedule.
“I always loved playing in the Founders Cup, and obviously making the purse bigger, having a new sponsor, and playing on a great golf course, they definitely raised it up to another level for this year’s tournament,” Park said. “I'm sure the founders love it, I'm sure the players love it, and everybody will be enjoying the tournament. The course looks like a major golf course. It’s a little bit wet and playing a little bit longer, so I'm going to be hitting a lot of longer clubs into the greens.”
But this is a week that’s just as much focused on history as it is play. For an LPGA Tour stalwart like Inbee, whose career has run the gamut over the last 14 years, the Cognizant Founders Cup means even more, providing an opportunity to pay tribute to those who have preceded her in LPGA Tour history.
“This is totally a very special tournament because we celebrate the 13 Founders who founded the Tour, and obviously we're here because of them,” she said. “It's great to memorialize them with a week like this. So a really big thanks to the new sponsor, Cognizant, for the great opportunity. It's gone up to another level so I'm really happy to be here and be competing in a great event.”