Se Ris Successful Saga - Men Make Room
Now, for the one enormous positive ' Se Ri Pak made the cut in a professional mens tournament. The pessimists will tsk tsk about the men who were playing in the SBS Super Tournament on the Korean tour ' they obviously werent that good, were they? The optimists will praise Pak all the way to the locker room, overjoyed that, for the first time since Babe Zaharias did it 58 years ago, a women has competed against the men and made the cut.
And she didnt just slide under the line. She made it with ease, standing just five shots off the lead on cut day Friday. Se Ri is so good.
I cant believe it ' did I really make it? asked a wide-eyed Pak when she finished her round.
While the feat doesnt compare to Annika Sorenstam challenging the men of the PGA Tour at Colonial, it nonetheless is a watershed mark in womens golf. The pressure in Korea was overwhelming for Pak, who faced the media onslaught head-on in her practice round and in both days of the competition. Pak, herself a Korean, is the most popular athlete in her country, in fact maybe the most popular person ' period.
The media circus surrounding Sorenstam in Fort Worth, of course, was unbelievable. Pak had the advantage of being in Asia away from the American press. But it was every bit as stifling for her in her native country.
Photographers proved a ever-present distraction. They were constantly moving back and forth, she told the Associated Press during her practice round Wednesday. It would be nice if they were a bit more careful.
Still, she survived the microscopic intrusions.
The past two days were one of the most difficult moments for me, she said. I felt heavily burdened and the past two days were the most difficult of my professional career. I am extremely happy now.
Paks 2-over 146, shot in blustery conditions with chilly temperatures, placed her 19th on the leaderboard out of 125 who teed who teed it up on Thursday. Sixty players make the cut.
Sorenstam, Jan Stephenson, Laura Davies and Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie were the others who have played against the men in this, the year of the Gender Challenges. Sorenstam and Whaley both played PGA Tour events. Stephenson played a Champions Tour event that didnt have a cut. Davies competed in a tournament in Asia and 13-year-old Wie played both on the Canadian Tour and the Nationwide Tour.
Pak exceeded all their accomplishments ' by a good margin. And she said the 7,052-yard course in Yongin, South Korea, favored the male players ' not her.
Because the fairways are wide and the course is short, I think its more advantageous to the men, she said, though the tournament leader at the halfway point ' Shin Yong-jin - disagreed.
I think the course was made to have Se Ri Pak make the cut, he said. I knew she would make the cut even before coming into the game.
Shin acknowledged, though, that Pak has the something extra that made her play a little better.
Theres something different about a world-class player, he said.
Pak is not a particularly long hitter, even by womens standards. She is 20th on the LPGA driving distance rankings with an average of 262.4 yards per poke. Sorenstam leads the women with an average of 271.2. But Pak is No. 2 on the LPGA money list, just behind Sorenstam.
The ultimate goal would be to have the PGA Tour become the best players in the world, not the best MEN in the world. Shin, who leads the Korean tour in earnings, feels the same way.
I dont see Paks play as a (gender) challenge, he told AP, but rather just as a player among professional players.
Pak would second that. She was quiet throughout the spring as Sorenstam prepared to play at Colonial, but finally she couldnt contain herself. She is anxious to see how she would do against the men in America.
My goal is to play against the men on the PGA Tour, she said.
If they invite me, I will jump at the chance. But I havent been invited yet.
Anyone out there interested? Now that the novelty has worn off and tournaments no longer will reap the huge public relations coup a la Sorenstam at Colonial, maybe its time to just see how a Pak could do as just another player, teeing it up on the PGA Tour.
Sorenstam doesnt seem interested any longer. But a certain Korean does, and she certainly showed this week that she can play with the men, even if it was in her native country.
Email your thoughts to George White
What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm
Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:
Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff
Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.
While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.
Watching Andrew Landry and Jon Rahm in playoff. Walking off tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me ? Talking at all. ?— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.
0 words— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The issue is I don’t want to make you a bit relaxed or comfortable. High pressure, good.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you watch the end of the NFL games yesterday ? Enough said.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
I didn’t say you couldn’t be friends and competitive. But in a playoff, 1 tiny mistake and you lose, and that devastated me. Friends before and after, competitors during play.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you win ? It’s all about surviving the competition to test yourself.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.
Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over
The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.
As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.
Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.
And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.
And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.
McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.
The Ryder Cup topped his list.
Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.
When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.
“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”
McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.
Or similar assertions from TV analysts.
“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”
European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.
And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.
The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.
Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.
And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.
Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.
The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.
The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.
More bulletin board material, too.
Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.
Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions
Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.
The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.
It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.
The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.
“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”
Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.