Se Ri Comes of Age
Pak was a young women from South Korea, Chuasiriporn was a Duke University athlete. Surely they would be around for many, many years.
Well, Chuasiriporn is out of competitive golf completely now. And Pak hit rock bottom for a couple of years before rebounding to win the McDonalds LPGA Championship this month. Obviously the two didnt keep their date for their future matches.
I still remember that, laughed Se Ri. I cant forget about that moment ' playoff.
The USGA has put itself in a position of possibly playing again on Monday when Thursday play was completely postponed by a day-long fog which blanketed the Newport Country Club. Plans are to play single rounds Friday and Saturday ' the field of 156 is too large to get them around for more than one round a day. Play is scheduled to wrap up on Sunday with a 36-hole finale ' IF there are no more weather glitches.
In 98, though, Pak was still feeling her way around the U.S., trying to learn English and the many, many differences in the two cultures. She was the first Korean to make the big leap ' there was no other trail blazer such as the approximately 60 Koreans have now as they professional golf in the U.S. They are scattered throughout the LPGA and the Duramed Futures Tour. But in 1998, there was one ' Se Ri Pak.
And she was in a playoff to determine the champion of the United States Womens Open.
Me and Jenny, we just had so much fun out there, same age at the same time and so many galleries following us on a Monday - which I thought was very impressive, she said. I know at a playoff in a U.S. Open you have so many galleries, but Monday, unbelievable. It's the first time I ever saw that many people out there.
Pak has lived in Orlando since 98 and makes only an occasional trip back to South Korea. Her English has improved to the point where she converses with the media in a totally confident manner. She has confidence that she can make it in her adopted country. That summer day at the Open convinced her that, if nothing else, she certainly had the golfing skills necessary to play the best in the world.
I mean, after LPGA and then after the U.S. Open, after that, I got so much confidence, Se Ri said. I don't know if my game (was) already that good, I'm not sure I can guarantee that. But I feel just personally I had so much confidence in myself every week I played. I got so much confidence after winning the U.S. Open.
After that, that was a great success because mentally, physically it helped me. I just really had nothing to lose out there. I felt so good, so strong, I felt like my game was right there. I can't tell my game 100 percent, but I know my mind, every single time I was ready.
But alas, she had several celebrated occasions with a fawning Korean media that nearly drove her off the tour. Se Ri was such an overwhelming story with her success in the U.S. that the press was suffocating her with their attention.
Everyone had so much high expectation for me seems like I always used to be up at the top there. Because people are so much used to it, and I never had a problem before, she said.
Like I said, people never realize that the game of golf is just not easy. They don't know how much I work for it, how much time I spend at the golf course and practicing a lot and trying to play the best I can. Every single time it's the same routine, and I'm doing so well for it. People are pretty much used to it being that way, seeing me on TV, seeing me on the leaderboard and they're seeing always I'm winning the tournament. Everyone had pretty much high expectation for Se Ri, which they're never thinking I'm going to be going the other way.
But I am a human being, too. Now they realize it, and every single time, now every year seems like we have more Korean players doing well and now it's just a lot more comfortable, like they are sharing all the pressure together.
I'm still there, (they) love to see me up there doing well. The last two years I had such a hard time for all the media attention. It's not easy for me to accept it. But now I know I have so much fans out there no matter if I play good or not, just always seeing me out here and playing, that kept me from giving up on my game.
Shes 29 years old now, and it hardly seems possibly that Se Ri is almost middle-age, golfing-wise. But it all began when she won that U.S. Womens Open. And two years of up-and-down golf have matured her into a woman.
The last two years have been a perfect time for me to step up one level, which is great for me, she said. I mean, (its) not easy, but I think its a perfect time for me to see.
Battling mono, Kaufman tied for lead at CME
NAPLES, Fla. – Kim Kaufman’s bout with mononucleosis might leave fellow tour pros wanting to catch the fever, too.
A couple months after Anna Nordqvist battled her way into contention at the Women’s British Open playing with mono, and then thrived at the Solheim Cup with it, Kaufman is following suit.
In her first start since being diagnosed, Kaufman posted an 8-under-par 64 Saturday to move into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. It was the low round of the day. She’s bidding to win her first LPGA title.
“I’ve been resting at home for two weeks,” Kaufman said. “Didn’t do anything.”
Well, she did slip on a flight of stairs while recuperating, hurting her left wrist. She had it wrapped Saturday but said that’s mostly precautionary. It didn’t bother her during the round.
“I’m the only person who can take two weeks off and get injured,” Kaufman joked.
Kaufman, 26, left the Asian swing after playing the Sime Darby Malaysia, returning to her home in South Dakota, to see her doctor there. She is from Clark. She was told bed rest was the best thing for her, but she felt good enough to make the trip to Florida for the season-ending event.
“We had some really cold days,” Kaufman said. “We had some snow. I was done with it. I was coming down here.”
How does she feel?
“I feel great,” she said. “I’m a little bit shaky, which isn’t great out there, but it’s great to be here doing something. I was going a little bit stir crazy [at home], just kind of fighting through it.”
Kaufman made eight birdies in her bogey-free round.
New-look Wie eyes CME Group Tour Championship title
NAPLES, Fla. – Michelle Wie is sporting a new look that even has fellow players doing double takes.
Bored during her six-week recovery from an emergency appendectomy late this summer, Wie decided to cut and die her hair.
She went for golden locks, and a shorter style.
“I kind of went crazy after being in bed that long,” Wie said. “I just told my mom to grab the kitchen scissors and just cut all my hair off.”
Wie will get to sport her new look on a big stage Sunday after playing herself into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. With a 6-under-par 66, she is in contention to win her fifth LPGA title, her first since winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago.
Wie, 28, fought her way back this year after two of the most disappointing years of her career. Her rebound, however, was derailed in late August, when she withdrew from the final round of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open to undergo an emergency appendectomy. She was out for six weeks.
Before the surgery, Wie enjoyed getting back into contention regularly, with six finishes of T-4 or better this season. She returned to the tour on the Asian swing in October.
Fellow tour pros were surprised when she came back with the new look.
“Definitely, walk by people and they didn’t recognize me,” Wie said.
Wie is looking to continue to build on her resurgence.
“I gained a lot of confidence this year,” she said. “I had a really tough year last year, the last couple years. Just really feeling like my old self. Really feeling comfortable out there and having fun, and that's when I play my best.”
You Oughta Know: LPGA's Sunday scenarios
NAPLES, Fla. – The CME Group Tour Championship is loaded with pressure-packed subplots Sunday at Tiburon Golf Club.
Here’s what You Oughta Know about the prizes at stake:
Race to the CME Globe
Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park are 1-2 in CME Globe points. They are best positioned Sunday to take home the $1 million jackpot in the season-long competition.
Thompson and Park are tied for fifth in the tournament, one shot off the lead. If either of them wins, she will take home the jackpot.
The way it’s unfolding Thompson is a good bet to take home the jackpot by merely finishing ahead of Park, unless they both stumble badly on Sunday.
Ariya Jutanugarn is also one shot off the lead. She must win to take home the jackpot, but she would also need Thompson to finish ninth or worse and Park to finish eighth or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points to make a bold Sunday charge.
Stacy Lewis is one shot off the lead with a longshot chance at the jackpot. She must win the tournament while Thompson finishes 26th or worse, Park finishes 12th or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points makes a bold Sunday charge.
So Yeon Ryu and Shanshan Feng are among others who still have a shot at the $1 million prize, but they have fallen back in the pack and need bold Sunday charges to take home the jackpot.
Rolex Player of the Year
The Rolex Player of the Year Award remains a four-player race.
Ryu (162), Feng (159), Park (157) and Thompson (147) all have a chance to win the award.
Park and Thompson are best positioned to make Sunday moves to overtake Ryu.
Park needs to finish sixth or better to win the award outright; Thompson needs to win the tournament to win the award.
It’s simple math.
The top 10 in the tournament will be awarded points.
1st - 30 points
2nd – 12 points
3rd – 9 points
4th – 7 points
5th – 6 points
6th – 5 points
7rd – 4 points
8th – 3 points
9th – 2 points
10th – 1 point
Thompson took a 69.147 scoring average to Naples. Park needs to finish nine shots ahead of Thompson to have a shot at the trophy.
Park leads the tour in money winnings with $2,262,472. Ryu is the only player who can pass her Sunday, and Ryu must win the tournament to do so. Ryu is tied for 32nd, five shots off the lead. If Ryu wins the tournament, she also needs Park to finish worse than solo second.
Rolex world No. 1 ranking
World No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Park and No. 3 Ryu are separated by just three hundredths of a point.
Because they are so close, the scenarios for overtaking Feng are head spinning.
At No. 4, Thompson is a full average ranking point behind Feng, but she could become the sixth different player this season to move to No. 1. Thompson, however, has to win Sunday to have a chance to do so, and then it will depend on what Feng, Park and Ryu do. Again, the scenarios are complex.
Cook leads RSM Classic by three at Sea Island
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to increase his lead to three strokes in the RSM Classic.
Cook, a shot ahead after a second-round 62, had five birdies and a bogey - his first of the week - to reach 18-under 194 with a round left at Sea Island Golf Club's Seaside Course.
''Putting is key right now,'' Cook said. ''Been able to make a lot of clutch putts for the pars to save no bogeys. Hitting the ball pretty much where we're looking and giving ourselves good opportunities on every hole.''
Former University of Georgia player Chris Kirk was second after a 64.
''I'm really comfortable here,'' Kirk said. ''I love Sea Island. I lived here for 6 1/2 years, so I played the golf course a lot, SEC Championships and come down here for the RSM Classic. My family and I, we come down here a few other times a year as well.''
Brian Gay was another stroke back at 14 under after a 69.
''I love the course,'' Gay said. ''We keep getting different wind directions so it's keeping us on our toes. Supposed to be another completely different wind direction tomorrow, so we're getting a new course every day.''
J.J. Spaun had a 62 to get to 13 under.
''I just kind of played stress-free golf out there and kept the golf ball in front of me,'' Spaun said. ''I had a lot of looks and scrambled pretty well, even though it was only a handful of times, but pretty overall pleased with how I played today.''
Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour.
''I think with an extra year on the Web this past year, I really grew mentally and with my game, just kind of more confidence,'' Cook said. ''I was able to put myself in contention on the Web.com more this year than I have in the past. I think I've just, you know, learned from experiences on the Web to help me grow out here.''
He planned to keep it simple Saturday night.
''I've got my parents here and my in-laws are both here as well as my wife,'' Cook said. ''Go home and just have a good home-cooked meal and just kind of enjoy the time and embrace the moment.''
Kirk won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2015 at Colonial.
''It's nice to be back in contention again,'' Kirk said. ''It's been a little while for me. But I felt great out there today, I felt really comfortable, and so hopefully it will be the same way tomorrow and I'll keep my foot on the pedal and stay aggressive, try to make some birdies.''