Jeju Island, South Korea
The conditions were brutal and the pressure even more intense than usual, but Se Ri Pak found a rather cosmic way to win.
“I kind of just freed my mind,” said the South Korean star after romping by six strokes Oct. 27 in the wind-blown Sports Today CJ Nine Bridges Classic.
“There is always a lot of pressure coming back to Korea to play golf. But I think I controlled myself well.”
Pak put on her proverbial blinders to remain focused, and she donned a winter cap, a turtleneck and a windbreaker to fend off the 40-degree temperatures and 15-mph wind gusts that battered the island.
Pak was the only player to finish under par for the tournament, shooting 3-under 213 to earn $225,000. Carin Koch was second at 3 over, Lorie Kane and Mhairi McKay tied for third at 5 over and Annika Sorenstam tied for fifth at 6 over with Danielle Ammaccapane.
Sorenstam’s bid to tie Mickey Wright’s record of 13 victories ended. The Swedish superstar has nine victories this year and needed to win at Nine Bridges as well as the other three remaining LPGA events.
“I’ve got a few more times to play and I can still have a great season, and I’ve got many seasons to come so we’ll see what happens,” said Sorenstam after her bid to break the 39-year-old record failed.
After the Nine Bridges event, Sorenstam was scheduled to defend her titles at the Cisco World Ladies Match Play and the Mizuno Classic in Japan.
As for Pak, her season-ending calendar includes playing all three remaining events in 2002. Pak’s 18th victory on the LPGA Tour boosted her earnings this year to $1,600,518, second only to Sorenstam’s $2,467,404.
The triumph in South Korea was Pak’s fifth of the season, so she has a chance to get within one of Sorenstam if she runs the table.
“As for my goals, I would like to win all three tournaments,” Pak said. “If not three, at least two. But I’m already very satisfied.
“This has been a great year.”