Pak on Top at Office Depot
Tonya Gill and Wendy Doolan were a stroke back, and Dawn Coe-Jones and Kristal Parker-Manzo shot 70s.
Defending champion Annika Sorenstam, coming off a win last week in the LPGA's first major of the year, opened with a 71. Sorenstam went into the final round last year 10 shots off the lead, but stormed back and beat Mi Hyun Kim in a playoff.
Pak, who started on the back nine at El Caballero Country Club, made birdie putts of 9, 6 and 10 feet to go to 3-under through her first five holes, then gave two shots back when she hit her 4-iron into the water alongside the green on No. 17.
She dropped and hit a wedge within 11 feet of the pin on the par-5, 463-yard hole, but then three-putted from there for the double-bogey.
The 24-year-old star, who has won three majors and 10 other titles since coming on the tour in 1998, quickly settled down after the trouble at No. 17, sinking a 12-footer for birdie on the next hole.
She added three more birdies -- and a lone bogey -- on her final nine holes.
'I was sick for a few days and didn't know if I would be able to play in the tournament. I woke up today and felt great, so I was happy to play,' she said. 'I felt great on the range and my mind is really comfortable right now.
'I told my caddie, 'Let's have some fun and do our best today.' '
Pak missed the cut last year in the tournament, which was played at Wilshire Country Club, by shooting a second-round 78 that left her 6-over.
She tied for 18th in her first tournament of 2002, then tied for ninth last week as Sorenstam won the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
Pak said she worked hard over the winter.
'Physically, I knew I had to be stronger, and I am stronger,' said the 5-foot-6 Pak. 'So I had to work out a lot. Mentally, I worked on how to rest and how to enjoy it more out there.
'I worked on putting and chipping, too, and I took two months off in the offseason with my parents and went to Korea.'
Gill, 31, is back trying to make a go of golf after spending most of the past seven years working in sports marketing, mostly for charity golf events, in Nashville, Tenn.
Her first-round 69 at El Caballero was bogey-free, and she made one 6-footer for par, and tapped in for two others. Gill was the early leader in the clubhouse before Pak finished her round.
'I have never led in an LPGA event, and even now I am not in the lead anymore,' Gill said. 'But I think this is only the third round that I have ever played without a bogey.'
Gill, a three-time academic All-American at the University of Kentucky, played in 19 LPGA events in 1995, but made the cut just seven times and earned a total of $13,558. She has played in just four tournaments since then, one each in 1999 and 2001 and two this year, after earning an exemption by tying for 15th in the LPGA's qualifying tournament.
Among those chasing Pak are Lorie Kane and Laura Diaz, in a group with Sorenstam at 71. Karrie Webb was six shots off the lead at 74.
Full-field scores from The Office Depot Hosted by Amy Alcott
Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test
One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.
Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.
"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."
Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.
"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.
Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.
"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."
Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage
Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.
Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.
Swipe to see what’s up in my world. It’s long-winded.... short version, we lost the baby. Had to share this since we had shared the news already. I know you’re all so supportive and kind. I just couldn’t face it before. Now let’s get back to our regularly scheduled programming. #ihavealotoffeelings #andphotostocatchupon
“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”
The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.
“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia
This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.
The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.
Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.
The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.
A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.
And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.
The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.
Green jacket tour
Man of the people
Ace at 17th at Sawgrass
Departure from TaylorMade
Squashed beef with Paddy
Victory at Valderrama
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates:
No. 4: Dec. 13
No. 3: Dec. 14
No. 2: Dec. 15
No. 1: Dec. 18