Every Indication Says that Pak is Back

By George WhiteJanuary 16, 2001, 5:00 pm
Tiger Woods can do no better than a tie for eighth at Mercedes and Karrie Webb shoots 3 over par at the LPGA. In their rather surprising absence from the winners circle, two former winners jump in who haven't won in nearly a year. Is this a democratic country or what?
 
Jim Furyk was astounded to win at Kapalua when Rory Sabbatini gagged a 2-foot putt. He was one-upped by Se Ri Pak, who shot a 64 in Orlando to blow by the rest of the field like they were stuck in neutral. Furyk shoots 7-under, Pak shoots 8-under, and both just turn out the lights on folks.
 
Pak, naturally, was sick. There is a belief among players that you must beware the sick golfer. I'm of the opinion that untold numbers of sick golfers have played poorly, but occasionally one does slip through and win, and that adds to the legend - so beware the sick golfer, I guess.
 
'Somehow, being sick makes me concentrate more,' Pak said. 'It helped me calm down, even though I'm not feeling well.'
 
There you have it. Se Ri tries to explain why she wins, just as she had to explain last year why she lost. She is much too accomplished a golfer to go through an entire season without at least one 'W.' She won four times in her rookie season three years ago, including two majors, and then won four more the following year. Last year - nada.
 
A closer look might shed a little light on the situation. Pak has had so much controversy in her private life. She was a fairly normal child in her native South Korea until the age of 14, when she decided to take up golf.
 
She immediately became a personal project of her father, who, among other things, made her spend the night in a cemetery to 'strengthen her mind.' She trained by running up 15 flights in the apartment where she lived with her parents in Daejeon, 100 miles from Seoul. Then she had to reverse course and then the 15 flights of stairs backwards. Her father apologized when he learned how difficult it was. He tried it and could only do five flights.
 
Pak, Se RiShe turned pro and immediately was a big success on the Korean tour, winning five times and coming in second six times in 13 events. Coming to America, she won the U.S. Open and McDonalds as a rookie. Amazingly, she had only been playing golf for six years.
 
During that off-season, she made so many life-altering changes. She broke the management bonds with Samsung, who had such control of her every move. She broke the ties with David Leadbetter, who had been her teacher from the moment she turned pro. A boyfriend had appeared, and although he since has moved on, he was the principal reason for her differences with Leadbetter and personal assistant Steven Kil. And then she changed clubs, turning her back on the old set she had used to go with a different company.
 
As it developed, the club switch was what finally brought her down. She had survived a switch from Leadbetter to Butch Harmon - to no one. She had survived the boyfriend and the switch to International Management Group. She had survived the club switch, going winless throughout last season. And there she was, a winner in the inaugural tournament of 2001.
 
The most advantageous change, however, might have been to a 'new' coach. Tom Creavy once worked for Leadbetter when Se Ri was a student there. He was Pak's main man when Leadbetter didn't have time to check in on her, so he knows her swing intimately. Now he is 'the man,' and Se Ri is listening. Up to now, things couldn't be better.
 
'My first two years, I had great seasons,' she said. 'And then last year, I had a hard time carrying that - not winning, not doing as well.
 
'I just decided, actually around July, that I really needed something to get ready for 2001. My mental game needed to get better. I needed to find a coach and get things around me more consistent. I needed to find a caddy to work together better.
 
'Last year, many things happen. Everything was totally changing. Find a coach, find a caddie, change my swing. We didn't have much of an off-season, only one month. And so I didn't have much of a break.
 
'I found a coach (Creavy) in September and we worked so well, even though I didn't play well. But I knew I was trying to get ready for this year. Then it was perfect timing finding a good caddie (Colin Cann, Annika Sorenstam's former looper.) Now 2001 looks like everyone is all set - mental, swing, coach, caddie. Everything.'
 
Everything. Pak is back. At least for one glorious week, the LPGA was everything it was two - or three - years ago.
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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 25, 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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Hahn jabs USGA over possible ball rollback

By Will GrayFebruary 25, 2018, 4:43 pm

As debate continues to heat up over possible sweeping changes to the golf ball amid distance concerns, PGA Tour pro James Hahn chimed in to question the merits of a potential rollback.

The ball and distance debate gained traction earlier this week when Jack Nicklaus offered that the ball should be rolled back to the approximate distances achieved in 1995, and he put blame for the current situation squarely at the feet of Titleist. That drew a response from former Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein, who put the onus back on the governing bodies.

It's an issue that will likely be discussed for months to come, but Hahn took to Twitter to throw a jab toward the USGA and play devil's advocate on some key arguments related to a possible rollback:

Hahn, who has two career PGA Tour wins and lost in a playoff last month at the Sony Open, ranks 55th on Tour this season in driving distance with an average of 301.2 yards off the tee.

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Na fires back over slow play criticism from cricketer

By Will GrayFebruary 25, 2018, 4:00 pm

Kevin Na fired back over recent criticism he received about his purported slow play at last week's Genesis Open.

Kevin Pietersen is a retired English cricketer with more than 3.6 million followers on Twitter. He tweeted a video of Na, known as one of the slower players on the PGA Tour, taking more than a minute to line up and hit what he described as a "Tap In" during the final round at Riviera:

He then added another video of himself on a green in Dubai, where he again called out Na and showed how long he believed it should take for a player to brush in a short putt:

Na has faced his fair share of slow play criticism, but this time he decided to defend himself. Na isn't on Twitter, but he took to Instagram to tell Pietersen to "stick to your own sport," pointing out both the length of the putt in question and the stakes that were involved during the final round, when Na went on to tie for second behind Bubba Watson:

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Pepperell wins his first European Tour title in Qatar

By Associated PressFebruary 25, 2018, 3:31 pm

DOHA, Qatar - Eddie Pepperell survived a tense finish to win the Qatar Masters at the Doha Golf Club on Sunday for his maiden European Tour title.

The 27-year-old Englishman held off a spirited challenge from compatriot Oliver Fisher, who needed a third successive birdie on the 18th hole to force a playoff, but had his putt from six feet slip past the hole for a par.

Pepperell shot a 2-under-par 70 for a four-day tally of 18 under 270, while Fisher, who started the day tied for the lead, could only manage a 71.

Sweden's Marcus Kinhult (68) finished third at 16-under.

The No. 154-ranked Pepperell made things difficult for himself with a bogey on the 15th hole, but hit a superb wedge to three feet on the next to get back to 18 under again.

Fisher, who appeared to have fallen out of contention with three bogeys starting on the third hole, stormed back with birdies on the 14th, 16th and 17th holes.

On the last, Pepperell laid up with his second into the thick rough, made wet and unwieldy by rain in the Qatar capital, but found the green in three and two-putted for the win when Fisher missed his birdie putt.


Full-field scores from the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters


''I did the things I needed to do, I didn't play fantastic but I won ugly and for the first win to be ugly is good. Hopefully, I'll have some prettier ones in the future,'' said Pepperell.

''I knew I was playing well, especially tee to green, so I expected a lot of myself this week and I guess to pull it off is amazing. When Oli birdied the 17th, that was when it really caught up with me that I was only one ahead. I was in my own zone, I knew I had a couple of shots of lead but Oli did great. It was a tough front nine for him and I had to stay right in my own way and out of the two guys' way because they were struggling a bit and it's sometimes easy to get dragged into that.''

Fisher was disappointed, but saw the silver lining in the way he fought back.

''It went all the way to the last hole which, after my front nine, was what I was hoping for on the back nine,'' said Fisher, who won the 2011 Czech Open, but recorded his first top-three finish since the 2014 Africa Open.

''I hit a lot of good shots coming down the back nine and gave myself a lot of good chances, but there were just too many bogeys today, four in total, so you're never going to win a tournament making that many mistakes on a Sunday. But at least I pressed him all the way.''

Italian Renato Paratore (66) had the low round of the day and finished tied for fourth place at 15 under par, where he was joined by the Spanish pair of Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Pablo Larrazabal along with Gregory Havret of France.