2002: LPGA - Pak breaks from pack with late birdie run

Kutztown, Pa.

The final round of the Betsy King Classic didn’t start out so great for Se Ri Pak. But it ended just fine.

After bogeys on two of the first three holes, Pak birdied six of the final seven holes – including the last four – to pull away for a three-stroke victory Aug. 25 at Berkleigh Country Club.

After back-to-back bogeys on the second and third holes, the 24-year-old South Korean played flawlessly the rest of the way, turning in an eagle and eight birdies.

She finished with a 9-under-par 63 and a 21-under 267 total, three shots in front of surprise runner-up Angela Stanford and five ahead of third-place Karrie Webb.

Her score broke the tournament record of 18-under 270 set by Annika Sorenstam in 1996 and was the best 72-hole total in an LPGA event this season, topping Sorenstam’s 19 under in the Evian Masters.

Pak’s third victory of the season earned her $180,000 and moved her over the $1 million mark and into second place on the LPGA money list behind Sorenstam, who didn’t play in this event.

“I just feel really good right now,” said Pak, who earned her 16th career LPGA victory. “My swing feels great. Each day, I swung the club better.”

Pak trailed third-round leader Michelle Ellis by three strokes. Following her consecutive bogeys, Pak parred No. 4, then made a 30-foot eagle chip on the par-5 fifth hole to get her round going.

“It was important to par that hole,” Pak said. “The eagle got me back on track. I still don’t think this is my best for the season.”

Ellis, coming off consecutive runner-up finishes, double-bogeyed No. 5 and had two other bogeys to quickly fall out of contention. She finished tied for sixth.

Stanford, a second-year player out of Texas Christian University, hung tough until Pak’s late birdie barrage, finishing with a 6-under 66.

She birdied four holes in a six-hole stretch, then added birdies on Nos. 16 and 17 to secure second place. Stanford’s best career finish had been a tie for 13th at the Weetabix Women’s British Open Aug. 11.

“I just wanted to take it one swing at a time,” said Stanford, whose check for $109,590 more than doubled the $85,042 she had earned coming in.

“I feel a lot better about my career now, and I can just go out there and play. I figured as well as I could make birdies, I had a chance.”

Webb, who won the Women’s British Open earlier this month, had a final-round 69, but never made a real charge toward the top.

That was left to Pak.

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