Sunday, May 20, 2018
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Familiar Farr story must be told again

You've read this before.

Because we've written it before.

Because Se Ri Pak has done it before.

Pak carded an 8-under-par 63 in yesterday's opening round of the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic. Not bad by anyone's standards. But certainly not without precedent.

This was the 39th round of competitive golf that South Korea's most famous athlete has played at Highland Meadows Golf Club. She owns a 61, a 62 and a pair of 63s. She has, in fact, scored in the 60s on an astounding 25 occasions.

Pak owns this joint. She has won the tournament four times. She knows every blade of grass by name. You could blindfold her, walk her to the first tee, turn her loose, and she'd break par.

The name Pak and the Farr Classic are synonymous, so much so that Jin Young Pak, another Korean, played her first-ever Farr round yesterday and fired a 67, her first-ever LPGA round in the 60s. See what we mean?

"When I was growing up in Korea I knew this tournament because of Se Ri," the other Pak, no relation, said. "I love Se Ri. She came here and played good golf and a lot of others came after her."

No kidding. There are 45 Koreans on the LPGA Tour this year. That's 13 more than a year ago. That's 44 more than in 1998, when Se Ri, then a tour rookie, shot back-to-back rounds of 61 and 63 to win the Farr not by a matter of strokes, but by light years.


Natalie Gulbis, left, gives Se Ri Pak a hug after they finished the first round of the Farr Classic at Highland Meadows.

Jeremy Wadsworth Enlarge

She is the Pied Piper of Koreangolf. She built it and the rest came. It seems like she has been around forever, but she is only 29 years old, on the precipice of the prime of her career. She could have four more Farr wins in her future.

Golf is one of the few sports where the Hall of Fame does not celebrate a career well after its conclusion. Pak joined the LPGA's Hall of Fame and the World Golf Hall of Fame earlier this summer. In golf, fame does not translate to the end of the line.

"What do you mean done?" Pak said, laughing. "I'm just starting. Life is just beginning. I'm starting again. I feel great about the Hall of Fame. I've done it. There's no more stress. Now I have even more confidence in myself."

And there is nowhere that Pak is more confident than at the Meadows.

"I think the game of golf, it's so silly," Se Ri said. "I can win [one] week and the next week I never know. But I always feel great about this golf course. I am really comfortable because I've won so many times and I have so many great memories."

She made another one yesterday, sinking nine birdie putts, only one of which was from outside 15 feet.

Pak started her round on No. 10 and made bogey. Her drive landed in the rough and she missed the green with her second shot, which landed in rough short and left of the putting surface. She failed to get up and down for par.

We provide all of that boring detail to get to a pretty good quote.

"I never knew the rough over there was so high," Pak said with a rather surprised look.

Well, of course not. She's probably never been in the rough before at Highland Meadows. And she never re-visited it yesterday while playing the remaining 17 holes in 9-under.

Things could always be different today because, as Pak said, it is a silly sort of game and an almost impossible one to consistently conquer. Either way, the four-time Toledo champ won't change her opinion that she is "probably the luckiest person in the world. My career has been a dream come true. I am really grateful."

So are the rest of us.

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