Se-Ri Pak (more properly, Pak Se-ri) recently retired from professional golf after eighteen years on the LPGA. With 25 LPGA titles and five majors, Pak became the youngest player inducted to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2007. She also won 14 times on the Korean LPGA Tour.
Perhaps more importantly, Se-Ri Pak inspired a generation of South Korean women golfers. Se-Ri Pak was the only South Korean golfer on the LPGA Tour when she started in 1998. A scant ten years later, forty five South Koreans teed it up on the LPGA. As of this writing, six of the top ten players in the Rolex World Golf Rankings are South Korean.
I’ll argue that she just might be the most important women’s golfer since The Founders; Alice Bauer, Marlene Bauer, Patty Berg, Bettye Danoff, Helen Dettweiler, Helen Hicks, Opal Hill, Betty Jameson, Sally Sessons, Marilynn Smith, Shirley Spork, Louise Suggs and Babe Didrikson Zaharias. She may even be the most important golfer since Arnold Palmer. Period. While the Tiger boom never really materialized, Se-Ri’s “Kids” have taken over women’s golf.
Pak’s most memorable win was perhaps her 1998 US Open title at Blackwolf Run in Kohler, Wisconsin (you can see my review and photo tour of Blackwolf Run here). With the tournament on the line, Pak hit a drive into the water on the 72nd hole. From there, knee-deep in water, she managed to get back to the fairway, hit a wedge to ten feet and made a putt to get into a playoff against amateur Jenny Chuasiriporn. In a playoff the following day, Pak sealed the victory on the 21st hole. At that point, Pak was the youngest US Women’s Open Champion.
Below is a selection of photos I took of Se-Ri Pak at the 2009 Jamie Farr tournament in Toledo, Ohio.