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Praying to Buddha for a Good Shot

Posted July. 14, 2004 22:06,   


Why did Pak Se-ri go to a small Buddhist temple?

On July 14, Pak Se-ri attended a Buddhist mass from early morning until the afternoon, with her father, Pak Joon-chul (53), and her mother, Kim Jung-sook (51), in a small Buddhist temple located at the foot of Mt. Gyeryong.

Pak Se-ri is a very famous Buddhist. When she plays in LPGA tournaments, she always wears Buddhist beads on her right wrist. The reason why she came to the temple is simple: Her golf game is falling apart to the point where she admits: “It’s driving me mad.”

Pak qualified for the LPGA Hall of Fame by winning the Michelob Ultra Open last May, but afterwards, she failed to make it into the top-ten of her next six tournaments, and even missed the cutoff twice. She played poorly in the Canadian Women’s Open, which ended on July 12, finishing tied for 31st (3 under par, 285).

After the tournament finished, she packed up and came back to Korea with her father. She arrived at 2:30 a.m. on July 13. It was a “quiet homecoming” that no one knew about.

On the day of the arrival, she rested at her home in Daejeon, and on the next day, she went to the temple and rested her mind. She maintained her condition by hitting balls at a practice range later in the afternoon.

Her sudden homecoming is something quite rare. That is because she usually returns to Korea due to injury or to participate in a Korean tournament. Director Lee Seung-hwan of Sema, Pak’s domestic management company, said, “She came back just to rest,” and added, “She is not hitting the ball well lately, and with her mind complicated, she returned to attend Buddhist mass and organize her mind.”

Pak’s performance has been poor because of her inconsistent driver shots. Her driver’s fairway hitting percentage this season is merely 61.9 percent, ranking her near the bottom (147th place). Since she is often hitting her second shots from the rough, she constantly misses the green, which shakes her mind, which affects her shots and starts another vicious cycle.

In particular, Pak has been using a new driver (r7) since June, and she hit well with it during fitting but in actual game situations, she is struggling. People close to Pak say she has changed her swing because she thought her swing was causing the poor play, but during the process of changing the swing, her shot was ruined. During the Canadian Women’s Open, she changed her driver shaft from “stiff” to “regular,” but she still misses her golf-sense.

Pak, who is skipping this week’s LPGA Tour Giant Eagle Classic, will leave on July 19 and play in the Evian Masters and the British Women’s Open. Will she feel the results of her Buddhist mass?

Sang-Soo Kim ssoo@donga.com