Se Ri Pak’s farewell tour before she retires at season’s end will include the U.S. Women’s Open.
The USGA announced Wednesday that it was awarding Pak a special exemption to play the championship July 7-10 at CordeValle in San Martin, Calif.
Pak, 38, inspired a nation of South Korean women to become a dominant force in the game after she became the first Korean to win the U.S. Women’s Open at Blackwolf Run in 1998. She played in every U.S. Women’s Open after until withdrawing before last year’s event. She didn’t play the second half of last season because of lingering effects from a shoulder injury that have troubled her since 2012. She announced in March that she plans to retire at the end of this year.
“The U.S. Women's Open has a very special meaning in my career and life,” Pak said in a statement. “It has opened up the doors for all my dreams to come true. With that, I am very honored and pleased to be given this opportunity to participate for the last time before finishing up my playing career. I have learned so much. I will do all my best to give back the love and support I have received for the future of golf.”
Without a special exemption, Pak isn’t currently qualified to play the U.S. Women’s Open. She would have had to win one of the eight LPGA events before the U.S. Women’s Open, move into the top 50 of the Rolex Women’s World Rankings as of July 4 or play her way in through sectional qualifying. The winners of U.S. Women’s Opens receive exemptions that run out 10 years after their victory.