Se Ri Pak ready to retire, start new chapter

By Randall MellMarch 18, 2016, 3:59 am

PHOENIX – Se Ri Pak said hello Thursday upon returning to competition for the first time in nine months, and then she did something she has been wanting to do for three years.

She said goodbye.

After posting a tidy 3-under-par 69 at the JTBC Founders Cup, she signed her scorecard and then stepped in front of a Golf Channel microphone and announced she will be retiring at season’s end.

“Basically, 2016 is my final season, full time,” Pak said.

Pak’s voice didn’t waver, didn’t crack. She marched into the media center after that and told reporters retiring was a difficult decision, but she was just as strong and just as resolute as she answered their questions. But then she put the microphone down, stepped off the stage, and she let her guard down falling into the arms of LPGA commissioner Mike Whan.

When Pak left the room, all the emotions she was holding down started coming up, leaking out one tear at a time. She dabbed her eyes in the hallway.

“This is not about my golf, it’s about my life,” Pak said.

Pak reiterated that she began thinking about retiring three years ago, but she had a big problem. At 35 back then, she didn’t have a clue what she wanted to do with the rest of her life.

She knows now.

When she figured that out, she knew it was time to retire.

Pak says when she looks back at her career, she is proud of what she accomplished, how she became the first South Korean to win a U.S. Women’s Open, how her victory ignited the popularity of golf among young girls in her homeland. She is proud of her 25 LPGA titles, her five major championship victories, how that success won her a place in the LPGA Hall of Fame. She is proud of how her feats inspired a nation to become a women’s golf super power.

“I’ve done everything I can do as a professional, as a golfer,” Pak said.

But Pak, 38, said when she looks back at her career with ruthless honesty, she sees something else, too.

She sees an incomplete person.

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

Pak says the next part of her life is about addressing this deficiency she feels. It’s about completing herself. But she believes the best way to do this is by addressing the deficiencies she sees in the monster she created back in her homeland. It’s by helping young players make sure they work on completing themselves, too.

Pak would like to open a school to train athletes, but not just train them for sport. She wants to train hearts, minds and souls, too.

Pak believes she can find the fulfillment that she aches for as a person by helping young South Korean athletes find fulfillment as complete human beings.

“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 is a role model. She knows that, but she wants to be an even better role model.

In some ways, Pak feels guilty about the monster she created back in South Korea – the monster ambition, monster drive and monster work ethic. She believes she created monster expectations, too, and she wants to make sure young players don’t let those expectations devour them the way they almost devoured her.

“Se Ri is so good with the young players now,” said Na Yeon Choi, the 2012 U.S. Women’s Open champion from South Korea who calls herself one of “Se Ri’s kids.”

Choi finds it interesting that this new wave of young South Koreans want to talk to Pak about golf, but that Pak always wants to steer the conversation to other places.

“Se Ri sees the young players practicing all day long,” Choi said. “On the road, they’re going from the hotel to the golf course, hotel to the golf course, hotel to the golf course. Se Ri has regrets. She regrets she didn’t have more fun, and she tells these young players to make sure they get out and go places, see things, be with friends. She tells them to take care of themselves.”

The stories about Pak’s worth ethic, how her father trained and pushed her to excellence, echo beyond South Korean borders. A track star before taking up golf at 14, Pak was trained hard by her father to be a champion, often waking her up at 5:30 in the morning to run 15 flights of stairs in their apartment building. He would make her run them forward and backwards. He pushed her so hard to overcome fear, the famous story goes, that he made her stay all night in a cemetery to overcome her fear of them.

Sean Pyun, the LPGA’s Korean-American managing director of international business affairs, says Pak’s influence radiated beyond golf. He says she set a standard that drove men and women in all walks of Korean life. He stood in the back of the media center Thursday fighting emotions while realizing what she meant to him and his parents.

“My parents have a photograph of Se Ri in their living room,” Pyun said. “I don’t think they have a photograph of me in there.

“I know, too, that I wouldn’t be doing what I do if it wasn’t for Se Ri Pak," he said. "I stood in the back of the room tonight realizing that I’ve never really thanked her for that.”

Pak’s grateful for what golf has given her, and she doesn’t take it for granted, but she wants to give back more than golf to the young people who grew up inspired by her. She wants to give them the fuller life she now seeks with them.

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Watch: Tiger makes 6 birdies, 1 amazing par in Rd. 3

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 4:10 pm

Tiger Woods started the third round of The Open at even par, having made seven birdies and seven bogeys over the first 36 holes at Carnoustie.

Following three pars to start on Saturday, Woods went on a birdie binge.

No. 1 came with this putt at the par-4 fourth.

No. 2 with this two-putt at the par-5 sixth.

No. 3 thanks to this 30-footer at the par-4 ninth.

No. 4 after nearly jarring his approach shot on the par-4 10th.

No. 5 when he almost drove the green at the par-4 11th and two-putted, from just off the green, from 95 feet.

And No. 6, which gave him a share of the lead, came courtesy another two-putt at the par-5 14th.

Woods bogeyed the par-3 16th to drop out of the lead and almost dropped - at least - one more shot at the par-4 18th. But his tee shot got a lucky bounce and he turned his good fortune into a par.

Woods shot 5-under 66 and finished the day at 5 under par.

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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 21, 2018, 4:05 pm

Tiger Woods made six birdies and one bogey on Saturday for a 5-under 66 in the third round of The Open. We're tracking him as he vies for major No. 15.

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Rose's Saturday 64 matches Carnoustie Open record

By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 1:03 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Justin Rose needed to sink a 14-foot putt on the final hole Friday just to make the cut on the number at The Open.

Freewheeling when he came to the course Saturday, Rose tied the lowest score ever recorded in an Open at Carnoustie.

Entering the weekend nine shots off the lead, the world No. 3 carded a bogey-free, 7-under 64 to at least make things interesting. It won’t be known for several hours how many shots Rose will be behind, but his back-nine 30 gives him an opportunity, if the wind blows 25 mph Sunday as forecast, to challenge the leaders.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

After all, Paul Lawrie was 10 shots back entering the final round here in 1999.

“I think the birdie on 18 last night freed me up, and I’m just very happy to be out on this golf course and not down the road somewhere else this morning,” said Rose, who is at 4-under 209. “So that might have been part of the shift in mindset today. I had nothing to lose from that point of view.”

Rose’s 64 matched Steve Stricker and Richard Green’s record score at Carnoustie (2007).

It also was Rose’s career-low round in a major.

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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 12:20 pm

NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

Saturday, Day 3 (Times ET)

4:30-7AM (Watch): Sunny skies and birdies were on the menu early in Round 3, as Justin Rose made his way around Carnoustie in 64 strokes. Click here or on the image below to watch.

Friday, Day 2 (Times ET)

8:20AM-3PM (Watch): As the skies cleared on Friday afternoon, defending champion Jordan Spieth made a run to try and regain the claret jug. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose and Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

1:30-8:20AM (Watch): On a rainy Friday morning at Carnoustie, Rory McIlroy shot 69 to reach 4 under, while Zach Johnson fired a 67 for the early lead. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Brooks Koepka, Ian Poulter and Cameron Smith.

Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.