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[Women’s Golf] Pak Savors Famous Barefooted Shot

Posted June. 12, 2008 06:22,   


About 10 years ago, when Korea was reeling from the Asian financial crisis, Pak Se-ri was a national heroine.

As a rookie LPGA golfer, she won two straight majors to raise hope among her fellow Koreans. Her famous shot while barefoot has been aired repeatedly.

Ten years have passed, but her motherland is again facing a gloomy economic situation. Pak, 31, arrived in Korea Tuesday evening to compete in a domestic championship. Before flying over to Jeju Island for the tournament, The Dong-A Ilbo talked to her at a noodle restaurant in Gimpo International Airport in Seoul. She looked tired from her long trip.

“These noodles are chewy, aren’t they? I like chewy noodles,” she said.

Despite her colorful career, she remains humble in personal life. Still, she said, “Whenever I think about that day (when she putted barefoot) 10 years ago, I get all choked up.”

She said she keeps her LPGA championship trophy and the U.S. Women’s Open videotape at her home in Orlando, Florida, and that she loves watching them.

“When things don’t seem to be working out for me, I watch the tape and the trophy,” she said. “Then I feel confident again. Even Americans still talk about that event. How time flies! It was 10 years ago! I still feel like a rookie. Now I have an army of younger players showing respect to me.”

○ Plan to open a golf academy

When she first started her LPGA career, she was alone. Now, she bumps into dozens of Korean players in almost every event, just as she would in a Korean tournament.

“I was just lucky,” she said. “These days, competition is harsher than ever due to Korean LPGA players. They are excellent. Some people say they are pulling down my popularity. I have to work harder.”

Her first tip to fellow Korean golfers was the importance of self-control. “Koreans always think about golfing even when they rest,” she said. “That’s exhausting and why they cannot concentrate when they really have to. Big shots like (Annika) Sorenstam and (Lorena) Ochoa do not even look at their clubs while on vacation.”

So where does Pak see herself in 10 years? “I want to run a golf academy to help fellow Korean players emerge in the international arena.”

○ Her boyfriend

The twinkling ring on her finger was a gift from her boyfriend last year, she said.

Pak is dating Korean-American businessman Tommy Kim, who is one year older than her.

“It’s been a year and a half,” she said. “He perks me up and understands me. He came to the United States when he was 11 years old. We date over the phone. When I play near Los Angeles, he comes to cheer for me. My parents know him. But he’s not really good at golf.”

On the marriage in December between national judoka Lee Won-hee and Korean LPGA star Kim Mi-hyun, Pak said, “(Kim) looks gorgeous. I heard she’s been making a beautiful bouquet. I will take the bouquet. It’s time for me, too.

“When I get married, I will continue my career for some time. I want to retire at the peak of my career like Sorenstam. Please keep your fingers crossed for me.”