Pak shot 63 in the final round of the First Union Betsy King Classic in Kutztown, Pa., on Sunday to win going away. Im not betting against a future 58, or against the idea that when all is said and done, Pak will be regarded as one of the greatest of all time. Shes that good.
She turns 25 next month and already owns 16 career victories, good for 20 of the 27 points needed to qualify for the Hall of Fame. Like Annika and Karrie, Se Ri will likely do it well before her 30th birthday.
Pak rocketed onto the scene in 1998. She won the first major she ever played, the McDonalds LPGA Classic, then followed with one of the most thrilling U.S. Open victories ever - the 20-hole playoff over Jenny Chausiriporn. She would capture four titles in all in 1998 and then four more the following season before hitting the wall in 2000.
Se Ri was under enormous pressure from her father. Children in Asia are taught to respect their elders at all costs. The male influence is very strong. Se Ris father demanded excellence, and on the rare occasion that Se Ri proved human, his criticisms were harsh. Two years ago, Se Ri could be found crying in the locker room, fearing that shed let her father down.
When youre afraid to fail because someone you love is going to come down on you, remarked Nancy Lopez, it becomes increasingly difficult to succeed.
Nancy, who grew to superstardom under the soft and loving touch of her late father, helped to bring Se Ri and Se Ri's father to a better understanding.
Se Ri truly loves her father, Lopez said. He just wasnt aware that he was hurting her.
Today, Se Ris much happier, traveling frequently with one of her two sisters. She fine-tunes her magnificent swing with Tom Creavy, a disciple of the man with whom Se Ri used to train, David Leadbetter. Her English is improved, and shes settled comfortably in the Orlando area.
I feel pretty great in life, she said.
She rebounded from a winless 2000 season to post five victories in 2001. And now shes added three more this year. Her major championship total is at four.
Se Ris also discovered the benefits of a solid workout regimen. On the course, she plays with effortless power, possesses a beautiful putting stroke and just doesnt appear to have very many weaknesses. When shes hitting on all cylinders, shes an absolute joy to watch, a pure striker of the ball with a smile to match the game.
Finally content and oozing talent, Se Ri Pak appears to be on the fast track to all-time greatness.