An unconscious stretch of golf featuring eight birdies through her first 13 holes managed to leave Se Ri Pak feeling somewhat unfulfilled in the third round of the Jamie Farr Kroger Classic when play was suspended because of lightning in the area.
A locked-in Pak going from four strokes down to two strokes up over start-of-the-day leader Laura Diaz became yesterday's best story at Highland Meadows Golf Club.
“I'm disappointed we didn't finish today,” said Pak, who resumes play this morning at 14-under.
Pak needed to send a message. On Friday, she posted a 67 despite feeling so ill, she considered not finishing her round.
“Here for me is a little something special,” Pak said. “I just don't want to give up right away and try to hang in there as long as I can.
“It was a good choice to play. All the fans here love to see me, and my friends here love to see me.”
Pak has won the Farr Classic a record three times. No golfer plays the course better or with more confidence.
Everything worked for Pak yesterday. It was a dream-come-true round, easily on a par with her course record 61 at the 1998 Farr Classic.
“Today feels better than a couple of years ago when I shot 10-under,” Pak said. “Today, everything was perfect.”
Pak smiled when a reporter asked if she was thinking about Annika Sorenstam's record round of 59. Pak needs two birdies for a 61, four birdies for a 59.
“What did Annika shoot? A 59? Why not a 58?” Pak replied.
Pak picked the course apart, keeping her ball in the fairway and knocking down birdies like targets in a shooting gallery.
“The first two days I struck the ball really well with my driver and irons and even my putter was good, but for some reason, the ball didn't find the cup,” she said.
Pak continued to strike the ball well in the third round. “I have a lot of confidence and finally my ball found the cup.”
Believe me, yesterday's performance will be difficult for Pak to duplicate. But it could be very, very important in her quest to win a fourth Farr title in six years.
Pak still has to do it all over again today over 23 holes - weather permitting. But, once again, she proved to everyone that she's still the player to beat at the Farr.
It isn't a stretch to say Highland Meadows plays right into Pak's hands. She loves playing at Highland Meadows.
It's just a feeling she gets. You can look into her eyes and tell she's zoned in.
She's not really worried about what's going on around her.
“Mentally, I just have good feelings of the golf course,” she said. “When you play well, you really want to come back and play again.”
We've watched Pak, who was born in Daejeon, Korea, grow up at Highland Meadows.
We remember how she struggled to speak English and adjust to a strange culture. And how she has now blossomed into one of the top players on the LPGA tour with nearly $7 million in career earnings.
Pak owes some measure of that success to the Farr Classic, where she's won a total of $497,000. She owns the Farr.