My 2016 moment: Pak's retirement

By Randall MellDecember 23, 2016, 3:00 pm

You expect tears when great athletes say their run is over, when they step in front of cameras for the first time to announce they are going to retire.

Se Ri Pak didn’t cry in front of the cameras in Phoenix back in March when she made her announcement official on Golf Channel, nor did she cry when she stepped into the media center to detail her plans before a room full of reporters. She was strong.

When Pak left that news conference, I followed her out into a hallway. That’s where she let her guard down. It’s where I got to see how leaving the game would be like leaving a loved one. It’s where all the emotion she was holding back came leaking out one tear at a time.

It was in that hallway that Pak surprised me when I asked her about the ache she was feeling. Yes, she said, she was proud thinking back on all her achievements, of how she inspired a nation of more than young girls coming up in the game, but also show she inspired South Korean men and women who saw hope in her work ethic and determination. Yet, there in that hallway, she was also thinking about what she saw as her great failure, her great regret.

“I’m an incomplete person,” she told me there.

Pak stunned me detailing how she regretted missing out on so much of what life had to offer because of her unwavering devotion to becoming a champion.

“I took care of my golf,” she said. “I didn’t take care of myself. As a person, I don’t think I’m good. I’m not good enough.”


Mell: Pak ready to retire, start new chapter in life


Pak didn’t mean she was a “bad” person. She meant she was an unfulfilled one. She also revealed that she felt some guilt about the monster she created back in South Korea, the monster ambition and the monster work ethic that helped create so many more champion women golfers but also may be creating more incomplete young women.

It was such a ruthlessly honest admission, but in that admission I got to hear how Pak leaves the game full of new purpose.

“Life not all about winning, losing, practicing and then winning, losing, practicing,” Pak said. “It’s balance, feeling right balance. It’s practicing life. I’m still developing myself, and I’m so far behind.”

Pak said the next chapter of her life will be devoted to training young athletes in South Korea, but not just to become champions between the ropes. She wants to teach them to seek the fuller life she missed out on growing up. She believes her life will also become fuller, more complete, doing so.

Sean Pyun, the LPGA’s Korean-American managing director of International Business Affairs, stood there with me as I talked to Pak in that hallway. Later, he told me how his parents still have a photo of Pak in their living room.

“I don’t think they have a photo of me in there,” he cracked.

Pyun said he fought emotions listening to Pak, because his career was really built on a foundation she established. She meant so much to him.

“I wouldn’t be doing what I do if it wasn’t for Se Ri Pak,” Pyun told me that day. “I stood in the back of the room tonight realizing that I’ve never really thanked her for that.”

If Pak has her way, she’ll continue to find new ways to inspire young Koreans.

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Garcia leads as Valderrama Masters extends to Monday

By Will GrayOctober 21, 2021, 3:52 pm

Weather continues to be the enemy at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters, where Sergio Garcia remains in front as the tournament heads for a Monday finish.

European Tour officials had already ceded the fact that 72 holes would not be completed this week in Spain, but players were not even able to finish 54 holes before another set of thunderstorms rolled in Sunday afternoon to once again halt play. Garcia remains in front at 10 under, having played seven holes of the third round in even par, while Lee Westwood is alone in second at 7 under.

Officials had previously stated an intention to play at least 54 holes, even if that meant extending the tournament to Monday, given that this is the final chance for many players to earn Race to Dubai points in an effort to secure European Tour cards for 2019. Next week's WGC-HSBC Champions will be the final event of the regular season, followed by a three-event final series.


Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters


Garcia, who won the tournament last year, started the third round with a four-shot lead over Ashley Chesters. He balanced one birdie with one bogey and remains in position for his first worldwide victory since the Asian Tour's Singapore Open in January.

Westwood, who has his son Sam on the bag this week, made the biggest charge up the leaderboard with four birdies over his first eight holes. He'll have 10 holes to go when play resumes at 9:10 a.m. local time Monday as he looks to win for the first time since the 2015 Indonesian Masters.

Shane Lowry and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano are tied for third at 6 under, four shots behind Garcia with 10 holes to play, while Chesters made two double bogeys over his first four holes to drop into a tie for sixth.

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Pavin's season nearly ends after slow play penalty

By Will GrayOctober 22, 2018, 1:50 pm

Corey Pavin's season on the PGA Tour Champions nearly came to an end because of a slow play penalty.

Penalties for pace are often discussed or threatened, but rarely doled out on either the PGA Tour or the over-50 circuit. But that changed Sunday during the final round of the Dominion Energy Charity Classic, where Pavin was told by a rules official after completing his round that he would receive a 1-stroke penalty for slow play.

The penalty was on the surface rather harmless, turning an even-par 72 into a 1-over 73 and dropping Pavin into a tie for 15th. But this was the first event of a three-tournament postseason for PGA Tour Champions players, and only the top 54 in points advanced to this week's Invesco QQQ Championship.

Pavin, who has two top-10 finishes in 20 starts this season, barely held on at 53rd place after the penalty was enforced.

Slow play discussions came up earlier this season surrounding Bernhard Langer at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, but Golf Channel analyst Lanny Wadkins expressed his surprise on the telecast that it was Pavin who got a shot added to his score.

"Of all the things to happen with all the times I have played - I can't even count the number of rounds - I never thought Corey Pavin was a slow player," Wadkins said. "All the guys we know are slow players have never been penalized out here. Where has this been for the last 15 years?"

The subject of the penalty also raised an eyebrow from Stephen Ames, who finished alongside Pavin in 15th place while Langer finished second behind Woody Austin:

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Azinger 'lobbied' to captain Ryder Cup team a second time

By Rex HoggardOctober 22, 2018, 1:47 pm

In 2008, Paul Azinger became the first U.S. Ryder Cup captain in nearly a decade to lead a team to victory, doing so at Valhalla with his innovative “pod” system and a player-driven approach to leadership.

In the wake of that victory there were many, including the vast majority of his players, who said Azinger deserved a second chance to captain, but at the time the 12-time PGA Tour winner appeared to be undecided and the PGA of America named Corey Pavin the 2010 captain.

On Monday, Azinger was named NBC Sports/Golf Channel’s lead analyst starting next year and among many revelations during an extended interview on “Morning Drive” he explained how much he wanted a second chance to captain.

“I wanted to do it again, I lobbied to do it again after we won in ’08, but I think I waited a little too long and they had already made a decision,” Azinger said. “The excuse I got was that there are more captains than there are Ryder Cups and I thought that was fair, but then they asked [Tom] Watson to do it again shortly afterward and I was like, ‘What, huh?’”

Watson was named captain of the 2014 U.S. team, which lost by five points and led to the creation of the Ryder Cup task force, which adopted many of Azinger’s ideas including his use of four-player pods.

It’s even more curious that Azinger was never given a second chance considering that Davis Love III was also named a captain twice, first in 2012 and again in ’16.

“I didn’t do it again, I didn’t carry the flag to Europe in 2010, which is fine, and now I’m never going to get to do it again,” he said.

As for who may be named the next U.S. captain after another loss to the Europeans last month in France Azinger could only speculate. “Looks like Wisconsin [site of the 2020 matches at Whistling Straits] and Steve Stricker are going to be a perfect match,” he said.

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Garcia wins rain-shortened Valderrama Masters

By Associated PressOctober 22, 2018, 12:48 pm

SOTOGRANDE, Spain -- Sergio Garcia won his third Andalucia Valderrama Masters on Monday, finishing the rain-shortened European Tour event four shots ahead of Shane Lowry.

Garcia shot a 2-under 69 for a 12-under 201 total in the 54-hole tournament at the Real Club Valderrama in southern Spain. Lowry shot a 66 in the final round.

Garcia, the tournament host, had a three-shot lead before the turn when stormy conditions suspended play on Sunday. He had three birdies and a bogey when play resumed on Monday, enough to add to his Valderrama titles in 2011 and 2017.

''It's amazing to be able to win here at Valderrama three times. It's a dream come true,'' the Spaniard said. ''This golf course is so challenging and for me to be able to go out there in the conditions we played in all week and shoot three rounds under par means a lot. I'm very proud of that and really excited about the week.''


Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters


Lowry was as close as one shot off the lead after a round that included seven birdies. His title chances ended with a double bogey at the par-3 15th hole.

''Obviously Shane was playing well, he got close to me, then unfortunately he doubled 15 and that gave me a little bit of an extra gap, with his double and my birdie on 14 opening it to four, and we kept it there until the end so that was nice,'' Garcia said.

Lee Westwood (70) finished tied for fifth.

Tournament officials reduced the event to 54 holes on Saturday after bad weather had forced several delays.

It was the 15th European Tour win for Garcia, the 2017 Masters champion.