Se Ri, pioneer of a generation
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On the morning of the 3rd round of The Evian Championship, three Korean players (In Gee Chun, Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu) monopolize the top 4 places. These high-ranked players on the LPGA Tour are treading in Se Ri Pak's footsteps.
"I started to play after watching Se Ri Pak," said Sung Hyun Park.
A look back at the career of Se Ri Pak, the pioneer.
She's tip-toeing off the stage.
And yet Se Ri Pak, who was behind the great revolution in women's golf around the year 2000, has not lost her status as a golfing legend.
At nearly 39 years of age (her birthday is on September 28), the South Korean announced some months ago that she would end her professional career at the end of the 2016 season.
In 1988, at the age of 20, the LPGA rookie and the only Korean player on the tour, Se Ri Pak won two Grand Slam tournaments, the LPGA Championship and US Open (of which she became the youngest winner). These wins sent a shock wave back to her native country and above all spelled the end of Anglo-Saxon domination of women's world golf.
Considered a national heroine, a living goddess in her home country after her exploit, Se Ri Pak was an inspiration to many. The pioneer with five majors to her name (the last one, the LPGA Championship, was ten years ago, and her last success on the regular US tour dates back to 2007) steered thousands of young girls to Asian driving ranges. For them, she represented "the" example to follow.
It didn't take long for many observers to turn Se Ri Pak into a women's equivalent of Arnold Palmer or Jack Nicklaus, the two US icons who revolutionized the men's game in the early 1960s. The fact that there are today so many competitive South Korean players on tour (15 LPGA tour tournaments were won by Korean players last year, who monopolize around 40% of the top world rankings), that there is a never-ending pool of players from this country, it is above all down to Se Ri Pak.
Following in her successful footsteps, eleven South Korean champions have sealed Grand Slam wins. Leading this elite group is Inbee Park with her seven Grand Slam titles since 2008. But also Na Yeon Choi (winner, like Park and Pak, at the US Open 2012). In fact, these two players were named "Se Ri Kids" by the media. "Se Ri Pak showed that the Korean players had the level required to be competitive on the US women's tour, and led the way for us", Inbee Park has always repeated, never short of praise for her elder.