Pak Collects LPGA Vare Trophy

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- In one of the closest races in a decade, Korea's Se Ri Pak earned her first career LPGA Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average, edging out countrywoman Grace Park by .08 points.
 
Se Ri PakPak, who finished with a 70.03 average, is the first Korean to win the Vare Trophy in the 51-year history of the award.
 
'It is really great,' said Pak, who finished second behind Annika Sorenstam in the Vare Trophy race in 2001 and 2002. 'I wasn't expecting it earlier this year, but a month ago I thought it would be great to win. I thought about it a little this week, but at the same time it is our last tournament and I was thinking about winning.'
 
The award puts Pak just one point shy of the 27 points needed to qualify for the LPGA Tour and World Golf Halls of Fame. She will still need to fulfill the Tour's 10-year playing requirement to be officially inducted, which will occur after the 2007 season. Since 1993, all players who have won the Vare Trophy are either current or future LPGA Tour and World Golf Halls of Fame members.
 
Pak is the first player other than Sorenstam (1995-96, 1998, 2001-02) and Karrie Webb (1997, 1999-2000) to win the Vare Trophy in the last nine years.
Sorenstam finished the 2003 season with a 69.02 average, but competed in only 60 total rounds, 10 shy of the minimum 70 rounds required to be eligible for the award. The 70-round requirement has been in place since 1972, and Sorenstam actually won the 1996 Vare Trophy when Laura Davies was not eligible due to competing in only 68 rounds.
 
In addition, Pak is the ninth consecutive international player to win the Vare Trophy. Beth Daniel was the last U.S.-born player to claim the award in 1994. Pak's charge to the Vare Trophy came via 20 top-10 finishes that included 43 rounds in the 60s, second only to Park's 46, which ties the LPGA's single-season record set by Kelly Robbins in 1997.
 
Pak won three times in 2003 and finished among the LPGA leaders in Rolex Player of the Year standings (2), top-10 finish percentage (2), percentage of rounds under par (2), birdies (2), eagles (1), greens in regulation (3), sand saves (T4).
 
Pak joins an illustrious group of LPGA legends who have won the Vare Trophy, including 16 LPGA Tour and World Golf Halls of Fame members. Kathy Whitworth owns the most Vare Trophy titles with seven, followed by Joanne Carner, Mickey Wright and Sorenstam with five.