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Published: Sunday, 8/17/2003

Farr is near Pak's heart

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Se Ri Pak was so ill Friday she almost couldn't complete her round. But yesterday at Highland Meadows Pak was in the pink and posting lots of red numbers. Se Ri Pak was so ill Friday she almost couldn't complete her round. But yesterday at Highland Meadows Pak was in the pink and posting lots of red numbers.
ZAPOTOSKY / BLADE Enlarge

Any other tournament on any other course and Se Ri Pak might not have been around for yesterday's third round of the Jamie Farr Kroger Classic.

During Friday's second round, Pak was so ill she could barely finish.

Yesterday, she was in the pink of health and put some bright red numbers on the scoreboard to take the lead at Highland Meadows Golf Club.

The three-time Farr champion, who began the day at 6 under par, scored eight birdies through the first 13 holes before play was suspended because of storms.

At 14 under, Pak was two shots ahead of Laura Diaz, the leader after each of the first two rounds, and three better than fellow Korean Hee-Won Han.

Play was suspended at 3:47 p.m. because of lightning in the area and it was about two hours later, following a lengthy rain shower, that LPGA Tour officials determined that the round would not be resumed.

Eighteen players were still on the course when play was stopped and will return to the Meadows at 7:30 this morning to finish third-round action.

After the field is re-paired, fourth-round play will begin at 9:30 with the lead twosome leaving the first tee at about 2:15 p.m.

Pak certainly was not happy to see dark clouds roll in and, soon thereafter, to hear the siren that stopped play.

She was on a roll the likes of which produced her 61, at the time an LPGA record score, during the second round of the 1998 Farr Classic.

Pak was facing a 25-foot birdie putt on the 14th green when play was halted. She will need two birdies on her final five holes to match that '98 score, three birdies to better it, four birdies to ... .

Laura Diaz towels off -- perhaps because of all the heat Se Ri Pak turned up. Laura Diaz towels off -- perhaps because of all the heat Se Ri Pak turned up.
ZAPOTOSKY / BLADE Enlarge

“What did Annika [Sorenstam] shoot? A 59? Why not a 58? So, that's my number,” Pak said.

She was joking, at least a little.

“Today felt better than a couple years ago when I shot 10-under here,” she said. “I didn't know what was going on then. Today, everything was perfect. I was reading putts well, striking the ball real well and it was smooth and easy the way I hit it on the golf course today. I couldn't feel any better than today.”

That wasn't the case on Friday, when Pak managed a 67, then immediately left the course because of illness.

“My stomach was hurting before I finished the front nine and, on the back nine, it was killing me so badly. It was the first time I ever felt so bad a pain in my stomach. I had a hard time focusing. I almost walked away.”

But not from the Farr Classic, not from Highland Meadows. Not from a tournament she loves on a course she all but owns.

Since joining the LPGA Tour in 1998, Pak has played 22 complete rounds plus yesterday's 13 holes at Highland Meadows. That amounts to 409 holes and she has played them in 78 under par.

“Anywhere else, the way I felt, I might have walked away,” Pak said. “But playing here is a little something special for me. I just didn't want to give up that easily here. It was a good choice [to keep playing].

On Friday, storms made the fans at Highland Meadows take cover. Yesterday it made them leave the course. Play was stopped at 3:47 p.m. because of lightning and was not resumed. On Friday, storms made the fans at Highland Meadows take cover. Yesterday it made them leave the course. Play was stopped at 3:47 p.m. because of lightning and was not resumed.
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“There are a lot of nice people here and it's fun here. I just love the town and the people. I have nice friends here. No, I didn't want to walk away from this tournament.”

The rest of the field might wish she had.

Diaz, the leader after each of the first two rounds, was 2 under through 13 holes and was 12 under for the tournament. She said she wasn't paying attention to the leaderboards on the course, but she had a pretty good handle of what was taking place.

“Se Ri was playing in front of me, so I know she made a lot of birdies,” Diaz said.

Eight, so far, with three in a row on two occasions.

Her first two birdies, on Nos. 2 and 3, came on putts from outside of 20 feet. Pak hit her approach to within two feet on No. 6 to start a string of three straight, settled for par at the ninth hole, then ripped off three more starting at No. 10.

“The first two days I struck the ball really well with my driver and irons, and even my putter was good,” Pak said. “But for some reason the ball didn't find the cup. I had a hard time making birdies. Today, my ball found the cup. It was pretty fun. I'm disappointed we didn't finish today, but it still feels great.”

The leaders in the clubhouse when play was halted were Mi-Hyun Kim and Carri Wood at 7-under 206.

Kelli Kuehne had the same total through 14 holes while Marisa Baena was at 8-under through 13 holes and Nicole Jeray was 9-under through 14 holes. Jung Yeon Lee was at minus-10 with two holes to play.



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