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Se-ri, Are You Ok?

Posted April. 29, 2005 23:38,   


Though she stayed away from the golf tour for a month in a desperate attempt, no one can be sure when Pak Se-ri (28 years old, CJ) will be able to stop her fall.

Pak is on the verge of being dropped from the first-round qualifier of the American Mortgage Championship on the LPGA tour, tied for 127th (nine over par 81). The championship (The prize is worth $1 million in total) is being held at the Franklin Vanderbilt Golf Club (par 72) in Tennessee. What is her problem?

A Vicious Cycle of Being Under Pressure and Her Games Collapsing-

At the moment, Pak Se-ri is in a state of panic. Since May of last year, she has not able to live up to the expectations of her sponsor and fans, her stress has mounted, and she has been spoiling her games. The vicious cycle goes on.

In the same game, Park Ji-eun (Nike Golf, 2 under par 70), Han Hee-won (Fila Korea) and Ahn Si-hyun (Kolon Elord) played well, finishing tied for second. Their good performance makes Pak, the “leader of the Korean golfers,” more fidgety.

Pak spoke her mind, saying, “When I practice, there’s nothing wrong. But when I go out on the field for real games, I feel stiff and make stupid mistakes.” Some say she lost her eagerness and sense of achievement after the decision of inducting her into the Hall of Fame was finalized. However, she says she is being misunderstood.

“Do you know how it feels to play among low-ranking players in the final round? You’d never know how miserable I feel packing my stuff in my hotel room after being disqualified for a preliminary.”

Her father and “lifetime mentor,” Pak Jun-cheol flew to America and stayed there for a month to give urgently needed comfort to his daughter. But her slump is so serious that her father’s presence did not help her.

Professor Won Hyung-jung (Ehwa Women’s University, SBS commentator) said, “What’s wrong with Pak Se-ri is not technical. It’s psychological. She need a rest of a year, not a month, and counseling with a psychiatrist.”

In addition, Professor Woo Chan-myeong (Kyungin Women’s College, KBS commentator) stressed the importance of a new coach for her, saying, “When you want to get over a slump seemingly caused by nothing, the role of your coach is important. But her current full-time coach (Tom Creavy) seems incapable of doing that. A coach who is familiar to you and you can feel comfortable with does not necessarily mean he or she is a good coach for you.”

CJ, Pak’s Main Sponsor, Is Wringing Its Hands-

Right after the round, Pak made an international call to the CJ employee in charge and honestly talked about her feelings. “I’m not confident about every single shot of mine. I might go insane. I need more time. I am doing my best to get back my shots.” Pak Se-ri is being paid two billion won a year until 2007 for five years by CJ. The total amounts to a whopping 10 billion won.

Is Pak going to fade away after being dubbed with a disgraceful nickname: “The one who was paid big time and then petered out?” Or is she going to make a successful comeback like the last time when she won a dramatic victory in the LPGA championship just a month before returning to Korea. In 1998, the first year of her advance into the American professional league, she lagged at the start of the season. So she was ordered to return home by her sponsor.

To be inducted into the Hall of Fame, a golfer must participate on the tours for 10 years. It has been eight years since Pak Se-ri went to the U.S. This year, she stands at a crossroads of her career.

Young-Sik Ahn ysahn@donga.com