GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — Annie Park won the ShopRite LPGA Classic last year.

The victory didn’t make golf any easier.

“I’ve been there struggling,” she said. “I know what it’s like. Winning a tournament changes schedule planning, but I don’t think it changes my motivation to try my best. I’ve tasted pain and the struggle of it. (Success) doesn’t come easy.”

Park, 24, will defend her title when the $1.75 million Classic is held June 7-9 on the Bay Course at the Seaview Hotel.

Park returned to Seaview on Tuesday for the tournament’s annual media day to promote this year’s event. The field this year is one of the best in the Classic’s recent memory with popular players Lexi Thompson, Michelle Wie and Paula Creamer committed to play. In addition to Park, past ShopRite winners Stacy Lewis and Anna Nord-qvist also will tee it up.

The Classic began in 1986 and is always one of the highlights of the South Jersey sports scene. Since ShopRite became the title sponsor in 1992, the event has raised more than $32 million for charities.

Park’s Classic victory was her first LPGA career win. She had struggled with injuries since joining the tour three years ago. Things got so bad that Park almost gave up professional golf before the start of last season.

Her older sister, Bo, talked her out of it.

“I was looking at other jobs,” Park said. ‘One of the jobs was journalism or communications. My sister was like why don’t you give it one last shot and give it 150 percent and see how you feel at the end of the year. If you give it your best shot and it didn’t work out at least you won’t have regrets.”

Things did work out.

Park made the cut in 16 of 19 events and earned $549,421.

So far in 2019, she’s been inconsistent. She has missed the cut in three of her last four events but finished tied for third at the Hugel-Air Premia LA Open last month.

Park is No. 36 on the LPGA money list with $145,749 in earnings.

But her biggest issue came off the course in April at the ANA Inspiration in Palm Springs, the LPGA’s first major championship.

Park discovered just hours before she was scheduled to tee off in the tournament’s first round that the back window of her rental car had been smashed and her clubs stolen. It’s no surprise Park missed the cut.

Park joked Tuesday that she got more attention for having her clubs stolen than she did for winning the Classic. She’s since moved on with a new set of clubs.

“It’s unfortunate,” she said. “It’s my fault for leaving my clubs in the car. I know I shouldn’t, and I still did because I thought it was safe. They’re probably at a pawn shot somewhere. My name is on the golf clubs. I know that they can’t sell them because they’re going to get caught.”

Park grew up in Long Island, New York. The Classic is practically a home tournament for her. She has almost always played well at ShopRite. In addition to her victory, she finished tied for sixth in 2016. Park played college golf at the University of Southern California and now lives in Orlando, Florida.

“It is an excuse to go home for a little bit and see family,” she said of the Classic. “My family can’t come out to (many) of my tournaments because they’re busy. This is one way to bond as a family to come out for this event.”

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