Pak Making Her Own Mark in Womens Golf

By Associated PressJune 5, 2003, 4:00 pm
WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) -- Five years from now, Se Ri Pak could see herself at the top of the LPGA Tour with a record that might surpass Annika Sorenstam.
The 25-year-old South Korean already has won 20 times and four majors. At that stage in her career, Sorenstam, 32, had won only 16 times with two majors.
Pak listened to the comparisons Wednesday at the LPGA Championship and nodded her head, a quiet approval of where she is and how good she can be.
'One of my goals was to make as much history as I can, which is not easy,' Pak said. 'But I feel as great about the next five years or more. My success is going to be much better.'
She already is Sorenstam's equal in one area -- the majors.
Last year, Pak made up a four-shot deficit at DuPont Country Club and won by three shots, finishing at 5 under on the toughest course the LPGA Tour faced all season.
That made her the youngest woman to win four majors -- the same number Sorenstam has won in her 10 seasons on tour.
'I want to win more majors,' Pak said. 'I would love to win four majors in one year. I try every single year, but I already miss the first one, so that screws up the year.'
She has come a long way in just a short time.
Pak hasn't mastered the English language, but she is just as engaging as she was during a brilliant rookie season that came to life in the LPGA Championship.
She won by three shots for her first victory -- 'I didn't know this was a major when I won,' she said -- then captured the golf public a month later with a 20-hole playoff victory in the U.S. Women's Open.
'This really helped my success,' Pak said.
Sorenstam is plenty successful in her own right. She already has 44 victories, including back-to-back titles in the Nabisco Championship and U.S. Women's Open to account for her four major championships.
She will be inducted into the LPGA Hall of Fame this fall. Sorenstam has been the LPGA Tour player of the year five times in the last eight years.
Most of all, she has brought new fame to women's golf by playing in the Colonial, the first woman in 58 years to compete on the PGA Tour. Sorenstam missed the cut by four shots (71-74), but handled the scrutiny with incredible poise and style.
She wanted to challenge herself against the men, and Sorenstam also wanted to get her game ready for the majors. Compared to other feats, her record in the majors is lacking.
'The majors is what means the most to me,' she said. 'I've won 44 times, but I want some more majors, so that's my biggest challenge, to see if I can peak when I want.'
Overnight rains and heavy clouds canceled the pro-am Wednesday, and the course was closed on the eve of the LPGA's second major of the year. Sorenstam practiced Tuesday and noticed the rough taller and thicker than ever.
'You can't get away with bad shots here,' she said. 'If you hit them good, you'll score well. That's what I love about this golf course.'
All that's lacking are the results.
Her best chance to win the McDonald's LPGA Championship came six years ago, when she played bogey-free until the final hole, where she three-putted from close range, missing a 2-foot par putt that kept her out of the playoff.
She never had much of a chance last year, when the course was firm, fast and as tough as anything the women saw all year.
Sorenstam lost her patience on the rock-hard greens in the second round and shot 76, and when Sunday arrived, she found herself 14 shots out of the lead. She closed with a 65, the best score of the tournament, just to finish third.
'I won four majors, but I never won here,' she said. 'I know I have the game for this course, and I've won majors, so I know I can do this. I haven't performed as well as I should for four days, but hopefully it will change this year.'
She has never been more poised to do that.
Despite the mental fatigue of playing in front of 20,000 fans on every hole at Colonial, Sorenstam bounced back quickly and defended her title last week in Chicago. She bogeyed the last two holes and still won by three.
The soggy conditions at DuPont fall right into her game plan.
The course figures to play much longer than its 6,408 yards because drives won't roll much on the fairways. Sorenstam leads the LPGA in driving distance at 276 yards.
The rough is so deep that Pak lost two balls during a practice round Tuesday. Sorenstam is renowned for her accuracy off the tee.
'I've got to hit good drives and make putts,' Sorenstam said. 'This is a big tournament, but I've got to focus on my game, and if I can do that, I think things will be all right.'
The first round of the McDonald's LPGA Championship begins Thursday at 4:00 PM ET on The Golf Channel.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage of the McDonald's LPGA Championship
  • Bio: Se Ri Pak

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    Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

    By Tiger TrackerFebruary 23, 2018, 4:45 pm

    Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

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    J. Korda fires flawless 62, leads by 4 in Thailand

    By Associated PressFebruary 23, 2018, 12:48 pm

    CHONBURI, Thailand – Jessica Korda shot a course-record 62 at the Honda LPGA Thailand on Friday to lead by four strokes after the second round.

    Playing her first tournament since having jaw surgery, Korda made eight birdies and finished with an eagle to move to 16 under par at the halfway point, a 36-hole record for the event.

    ''That was a pretty good round, pretty special,'' she said. ''Just had a lot of fun doing it.''

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    Korda is the daughter of former tennis player Petr Korda. She leads from another American, Brittany Lincicome, who carded a 65 to go 12 under at the Siam Country Club Pattaya Old Course.

    Minjee Lee of Australia is third and a shot behind Linicome on 11 under after a 67. Lexi Thompson, the 2016 champion, is fourth and another shot behind Lee.

    Korda is making her season debut in Thailand after the surgery and is playing with 27 screws holding her jaw in place.

    She seized the outright lead with a birdie on No. 15, the third of four straight birdies she made on the back nine. Her eagle on the last meant she finished with a 29 on the back nine, putting her in prime position for a first tour win since 2015.

    ''The best part is I have had no headache for 11 weeks. So that's the biggest win for me,'' she said. ''Honestly I was just trying to get on the green, get myself a chance. I birdied four in a row and holed a long one (on 18). I wasn't expecting it at all. It was pretty cool.''

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    Simpson, Noren share Honda lead after challenging Rd. 1

    By Doug FergusonFebruary 23, 2018, 1:25 am

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. - Tiger Woods had what he called ''easily'' his best round hitting the ball, and he didn't even break par at the Honda Classic.

    Alex Noren and Webb Simpson shared the lead at 4-under 66 in steady wind on a penal PGA National golf course, and felt as though they had to work hard for it. Both dropped only one shot Thursday, which might have been as great an accomplishment as any of their birdies.

    ''When you stand on certain tee boxes or certain approach shots, you remember that, 'Man, this is one of the hardest courses we play all year, including majors,''' said Simpson, who is playing the Honda Classic for the first time in seven years.

    Only 20 players broke par, and just as many were at 76 or worse.

    Woods had only one big blunder - a double bogey on the par-5 third hole when he missed the green and missed a 3-foot putt - in an otherwise stress-free round. He had one other bogey against three birdies, and was rarely out of position. Even one of his two wild drives, when his ball landed behind two carts that were selling frozen lemonade and soft pretzels, he still had a good angle to the green.

    ''It was very positive today,'' Woods said. ''It was a tough day out there for all of us, and even par is a good score.''

    It was plenty tough for Adam Scott, who again stumbled his way through the closing stretch of holes that feature water, water and more water. Scott went into the water on the par-3 15th and made double bogey, and then hit into the water on the par-3 17th and made triple bogey. He shot 73.

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    Rory McIlroy was at even par deep into the back nine when he figured his last chance at birdie would be the par-5 18th. Once he got there, he figured his best chance at birdie was to hit 3-wood on or near the green. Instead, he came up a yard short and into the water, made double bogey and shot 72.

    Noren, who lost in a playoff at Torrey Pines last month, shot 31 on the front nine and finished with a 6-foot birdie on the ninth hole into a strong wind for his 66.

    The Swede is a nine-time winner on the European Tour who is No. 16 in the world, though he has yet to make a connection among American golf fans - outside of Stillwater, Oklahoma, from his college days at Oklahoma State - from not having fared well at big events. Noren spends time in South Florida during the winter, so he's getting used to this variety of putting surfaces.

    ''I came over here to try to play some more American-style courses, get firmer greens, more rough, and to improve my driving and improve my long game,'' Noren said. ''So it's been great.''

    PGA champion Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger and Morgan Hoffmann - who all live up the road in Jupiter - opened with a 67. There's not much of an advantage because hardly anyone plays PGA National the other 51 weeks of the year. It's a resort that gets plenty of traffic, and conditions aren't quite the same.

    Louis Oosthuizen, the South African who now lives primarily in West Palm Beach, also came out to PGA National a few weeks ago to get a feel for the course. He was just like everyone else that day - carts on paths only. Not everyone can hole a bunker shot on the final hole at No. 9 for a 67. Mackenzie Hughes of Canada shot his 67 with a bogey from a bunker on No. 9.

    Woods, in his third PGA Tour event since returning from a fourth back surgery, appears to be making progress.

    ''One bad hole,'' he said. ''That's the way it goes.''

    It came on the easiest hole on the course. Woods drove into a fairway bunker on the par-5 third, laid up and put his third shot in a bunker. He barely got it out to the collar, used the edge of his sand wedge to putt it down toward the hole and missed the 3-foot par putt.

    He answered with a birdie and made pars the rest of the way.

    ''I'm trying to get better, more efficient at what I'm doing,'' Woods said. ''And also I'm actually doing it under the gun, under the pressure of having to hit golf shots, and this golf course is not forgiving whatsoever. I was very happy with the way I hit it today.''

    Woods played with Patton Kizzire, who already has won twice on the PGA Tour season this year. Kizzire had never met Woods until Thursday, and he yanked his opening tee shot into a palmetto bush. No one could find it, so he had to return to the tee to play his third shot. Kizzire covered the 505 yards in three shots, an outstanding bogey considering the two-shot penalty.

    Later, he laughed about the moment.

    ''I was so nervous,'' Kizzire said. ''I said to Tiger, 'Why did you have to make me so nervous?'''

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    Players battle 'crusty' greens on Day 1 at Honda

    By Randall MellFebruary 22, 2018, 11:52 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Tiger Woods called the greens “scratchy” on PGA National’s Champion Course.

    Rory McIlroy said there is “not a lot of grass on them.”

    Morgan Hoffmann said they are “pretty dicey in spots, like a lot of dirt.”

    The first round of the Honda Classic left players talking almost as much about the challenge of navigating the greens as they did the challenge of Florida’s blustery, winter winds.

    “They looked more like Sunday greens than Thursday,” McIlroy said. “They are pretty crusty. They are going to have a job keeping a couple of them alive.”

    The Champion Course always plays tough, ranking annually among the most challenging on the PGA Tour. With a very dry February, the course is firmer and faster than it typically plays.

    “Today was not easy,” Woods said. “It's going to get more difficult because these greens are not the best . . . Some of these putts are a bit bouncy . . . There's no root structure. You hit shots and you see this big puff of sand on the greens, so that shows you there's not a lot of root structure.”

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    Brad Nelson, PGA National’s director of agronomy, said the Champion Course’s TifEagle Bermuda greens are 18 years old, and they are dealing with some contamination, in spots, of other strains of grasses.

    “As it’s been so warm and dry, and as we are trying to get the greens so firm, those areas that are not a true Tifeagle variety anymore, they get unhappy,” Nelson said. “What I mean by unhappy is that they open up a little bit . . . It gives them the appearance of being a little bit thin in some areas.”

    Nelson said the greens are scheduled for re-grassing in the summer of 2019. He said the greens do have a “crusty” quality, but . . .

    “Our goal is to be really, really firm, and we feel like we are in a good place for where we want them to be going into the weekend,” he said.