Game Changer

By Randall MellMay 17, 2010, 4:47 am
Look at what Se Ri Pak’s wrought.

Her gifts soar beyond ability to that special place where few golfers dwell.

She ranks among the most influential players the game’s ever known.
Se Ri Pak
Se Ri Pak earned her 25th LPGA victory at the Bell Micro LPGA Classic. (Getty Images)
Like Francis Ouimet and Arnold Palmer, her legacy will be about so much more than winning tournaments. It will be about winning hearts and minds. It will be about how her triumphs sparked an intense new wave of interest in the game. Like Ouimet and Palmer, the timing of her emergence changed the nature of the game.

We were reminded of that after Pak poured in a 10-foot birdie putt in the rain Sunday to win the Bell Micro LPGA Classic in a playoff, defeating Brittany Lincicome and Suzann Pettersen in the rain-shortened event at Magnolia Grove on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Mobile, Ala.

We were reminded with so many South Koreans dancing after Pak in the victory celebration to shower her in champagne and beer.

We were reminded when fellow countrywoman Jiyai Shin locked Pak in an emotional hug and wouldn’t let go afterward.

Shin, the No. 1 player in the world, declined to leave for the airport after the event was shortened to 54 holes because of bad weather. She stayed to cheer on Pak in the playoff.

Two weeks ago, Shin rose to the top of the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. She is among that amazing brood known in South Korea as Se Ri’s Kids.

“I’m single, but how many kids do I have?” Pak joked after she won Sunday’s playoff on the third extra hole. “I feel very, very proud of that. They give me a lot of energy. They keep me playing.”

Shin may be the first player of that nation to rise to No. 1, but she’ll tell you that Pak will always rule supreme in their homeland.

“Jiyai’s always said that I’m her idol, and that she played golf because of me,” Pak said in a telephone interview after Sunday’s victory. “I’m very thankful to share the victory with her and the other players from South Korea.”

Pak’s place in history isn’t fully appreciated outside her homeland because she’s just 32 and the history she’s shaping is still a work in remarkable progress, but she reminded us Sunday how this change she initiated keeps gaining momentum.

Pak's story is well told, how she was the only South Korean playing full time on the LPGA when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in 1998 at Blackwolf Run. That victory was a seed. Forty-five South Koreans are tour members this year.

Shin is among 34 South Koreans ranked among the top 100 in the world.

No other country’s close.

The United States features 21, Japan 20.

Pak’s victory Sunday was the 13th by a South Korean since the start of the ’09 season, twice as many victories as any other nation.  

First and foremost, Pak’s an inspiration, and the emphasis here is on the present tense.

Out of soggy sand in a soaked fairway bunker Sunday, Pak hit a 6-iron from 171 yards to 10 feet. That set up her winning birdie, a putt made tougher after Lincicome holed a clutch 25-foot putt to save par.

Pak’s victory improved her record to 6-0 in playoffs. She seems able to conjure her best under playoff pressure. She beat Jenny Chuasiriporn in a 20-hole playoff at the U.S. Women’s Open in ’98. She beat Karrie Webb on the first extra hole at the McDonald’s LPGA Championship in ’06 nearly holing out a hybrid 4-iron, a shot that ranks among the best under pressure in major championship history.

Sunday’s victory was Pak’s 25th LPGA title, but her first in 56 starts, since she won the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic almost three years ago.

“I’m a new person, a new player,” Pak said after her victory. “I’ve got a new attitude.

“I think I’ve been putting too much pressure on myself. I’m going to be calmer, more positive. If I miss a shot, it’s over and I move on.”

The new Se Ri Pak hopes to do what the old one always did.

She hopes to keep inspiring greatness.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.