Se Ri Pak ends Hall of Fame career
The first round of the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship saw some great scoring, as Allison Lee shot a blistering seven-under par 65 to take the lead. The headline for the day was about Se Ri Pak, who played in the final group of the day with defending champion Lexi Thompson and Shanshan Feng. While Park was a non-factor in the tournament after shooting a round of 80, all eyes were on her making her way up the 18th fairway. A birdie putt just missed and a routine par ended her final round on the LPGA tour. Pak retired to a roaring ovation, hugs from her playing partners and a tear in her eye.
Se Ri Pak turned professional i 1996 and won six tournaments on the LPGA of Korea Tour in her first two seasons. She moved to the United States in 1997 and in 1998 won her first LPGA event at the McDonald’s LPGA Championship, defeating Donna Andrews and Lisa Hackney by three shots. Less than two months later, Pak won her second major at the US Open in a memorable playoff against amateur Jenny Chuasiriporn. Pak won twice more in 1998, including a runaway nine stroke victory at the Jamie Farr Kroger Classic.
Pak was victorious four more times on the LPGA tour in 1999 and after failing to win in 2000, won five times in 2001 including the Women’s British Open by two shots over Mi Hyun Kim. Se Ri Pak added her second LPGA Championship in 2002, to go along with four other wins. Her final major came fittingly at the LPGA Championship in 2006, defeating Karrie Webb in a playoff.
At age 29, Se Ri Pak was inducted into the Hall of Fame, becoming the youngest living entrant ever. Pak added to her amazing career the same year by winning the Jamie Farr Kroger Classic for the fifth time, entering a prestigious list of four to win a tournament five times.
Pak last won on tour in 2010 at the Bell Micro LPGA Classic, defeating Brittany Lincicome and Suzann Pettersen in a playoff. Although just 34 years of age, injuries started taking their toll on Pak, particularly a left shoulder injury that hampered her for much of the 2012 season.
Her retirement in South Korea is fitting for the woman who inspired the likes of In Gee Chun, Ha Na Jang, Mirim Lee, Amy Yang, Inbee Park, just to name a few. Pak retires with 39 professional wins, 25 on the LPGA tour.