Top 5: Highlights of Se Ri Pak's careerOctober 27, 2016 The Scoop
We celebrate the career of influential South Korean golfer Se Ri Pak
When Se Ri Pak, also known as Pak Se Ri, captured two Major titles in her rookie season on the LPGA Tour in 1998 she was the only South Korean player on tour.
Fast forward 10 years and there were 45 South Korean stars on the LPGA. A quick look at the women’s world golf rankings in 2016 shows six of the top-10 spots are filled by players from South Korea.
Many have highlighted Pak as being the catalyst and inspiration for the boom in women’s golf in South Korea over the last 20 years.
The 39-year-old, who retired earlier this month after the KEB HanaBank Championship, has enjoyed a glittering career.
Five Major trophies, 25 LPGA Tour wins, 14 LPGA of Korea titles, a perfect play-off record (six wins from six) and a place in the Hall of Fame, it is easy to see why she inspired a generation.
To celebrate her remarkable career, here are five of her greatest moments.
5. Vare Trophy joy for Se Ri Pak
Although she didn’t win any of her five Major trophies in 2003, this was season when she was at her most consistent.
She won three LPGA Tour titles in 2003 but it was the South Korean’s high-quality performances throughout the year that won her acclaim.
It also won her the Vare Trophy, which is awarded annually to the lowest scoring average on tour. She became the first Asian player to pick up the accolade.
4. A Major breakthrough
Se Ri Pak was the only South Korean player on the LPGA Tour during the 1998 season.
The relatively unknown rookie was just 20 when she captured the McDonald’s LPGA Championship at DuPont Country Club in Delaware.
The young gun finished on 11 under par, three shots ahead of Donna Andrews and Lisa Hackney.
Pak had announced herself on the very highest stage of women’s golf and made sure a few heads started turning her way.
3. A hat-trick of LPGA Championship crowns
Pak’s fifth and final Major of her career arrived in 2006, at the age of 28.
Her play-off victory at Bulle Rock Golf Course in Maryland completed a hat-trick of LPGA Championships.
But she was made to work for her final piece of Major silverware.
Pak three-putted the final hole of regulation to fall into a tie with Australian veteran Karrie Webb at eight under par.
However, she immediately recovered in the play-offs by claiming a birdie on the first extra hole to record her first win in two years.
Check out some of her best shots from that tournament below.
2. Pak joins the game’s greats in World Golf Hall of Fame
Pak achieved yet another first for South Korean golf in 2007 when she became the first player from the country to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
She qualified for the Hall of Fame at the age 29, becoming the youngest person ever to be inducted (Young Tom Morris, who died at the age of 24, was elected posthumously in 1975).
The player who had set the standard for South Korean women’s golf throughout her career had been immortalised next to some of the game greatest ever servants.
1. US Open victory puts Se Ri Pak in the spotlight
In her rookie season on the LPGA in 1998, Pak claimed arguably the most influential win of her career at Blackwolf Run in Wisconsin.
The 20-year-old looked like she would come up desperately short of winning the US Women’s Open when she hooked her drive into the water on the 72nd hole.
But Pak stood in knee-deep water to fashion a recovery back into the fairway, then wedged to 10 feet and made the putt to join amateur Jenny Chuasiriporn in a play-off battle.
In the Monday play-off, Pak fell behind early but rallied late on to tie after 18 holes. Finally, on the 21st hole, she made an 18-foot birdie putt to become the youngest US Women’s Open champion ever.
It also made her – along with Juli Inkster – one of only two woman ever to win two Majors in her first season, following her LPGA Championship victory a few months earlier.
Her US Women’s Open triumph is seen by many as a defining moment when several young South Korean players were inspired to take up the sport.