ORLANDO, Fla. – Se Ri Pak can attest to the benefits of a mental holiday. Despite winning the Bell Micro LPGA Classic on May 16 for her 25th career victory, Pak struggled as the year wore on, eventually deciding it was time to hide the clubs for a few weeks.
Pak, a 12-year veteran of the LPGA, can’t point to one specific round, swing flaw or even airport horror story to account for the nearly two months she spent away from the game early in the fall. She knows only that it was the right thing to do, and that now she’s reaping the benefits of time spent cooling her heels.
“I just feel perfect,” Pak said with a serene smile Thursday at Grand Cypress Golf Club during the LPGA season finale. “I feel so good, this is probably the last tournament of the season, but I wish we had a couple more now.”
Minutes earlier, Pak had drained a side-breaking, 25-foot birdie putt at the ninth, her final hole of the day, to get to 2-over 74. She is tied for 27th, with first-round play halted for darkness.
For Pak, living life from a suitcase is old hat, but that doesn’t mean it gets any easier as she gets older. It was an up-and-down season as she missed the cut or withdrew six times in 14 events played – including four straight events during June and early July. After missing the cut at the U.S. Women’s Open, Pak took the rest of July and much of August off before playing the CN Canadian Women’s Open (finishing T-8). She then decided to closet the clubs again until October and enjoy being an aunt for the first time.
“I watch my niece and play with her a little bit and buy some toys,” Pak said of her sister Aeri’s 14-month-old daughter.
The hardest part of her decision was that part of her break fell during the Women’s British Open and the Evian Masters. Pak decided she could let one year slip by without attending.
“If your mind won’t be there, then you shouldn’t be there,” she said. “I just decided it was OK; I’m still going to come back next year.”