Pak’s LPGA title shows the world that she is back
Over the weekend, a Korean athlete accomplished a significant feat of her own on a big stage.
Pak Se-ri captured the Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour’s McDonald’s LPGA Championship Havre de Grace, Maryland, defeating Karrie Webb in a playoff.
It was her fifth career major and 23rd win overall. But the victory meant much more to Pak than numbers. After two years without a win, it was her career redemption, an emphatic “I am back” without having to utter the words.
After shooting an 81 in the third round of the Evian Masters in France in July 2004, Pak said she was lost and needed a break from the sport.
“I want to be dating, or just pick up a hobby or two to keep myself occupied,” Pak said at the time. “But I don’t have time. Even if I did, I wouldn’t know what to do with it.”
She was just as lost on the course. From 2001 to 2003, she was second on the tour’s money list behind Annika Sorenstam, but dropped to 11th in 2004.
While Sorenstam went on a tear, winning 18 tournaments from 2004 to 2005, Pak completely fell off the radar screen.
Her drives were off, her iron shots weren’t nearly as accurate in the past and her putter deserted her, too.
Frustrated by whispers that she was finished as a golfer, Pak took her time resting before resuming training. She said that was the most trying time of her career, because “No one believed that I was actually injured.”
In April this year, Pak got her first top-10 finish of the season, tying for ninth at the Ginn Clubs and Resorts Open. And then came the LPGA Championship, which is where she got the first career win in 1998.
“For a while, I hated golf because I didn’t know why I was doing this,” she said. “But I am back, and I am ready to enjoy playing again.”
by Chung Jeh-won, Yoo Jee-ho