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Heart-wrenching regrets

Posted October. 24, 2020 07:51,   

Updated October. 24, 2020 07:51


We all come across important moments throughout our lifetime. Some get the jitters with the college entrance exam around 40 days away. Others may be waiting for a job interview for which they have managed to get an opportunity in time of severe unemployment. Unfortunately, too much nervousness can make a mess of such crucial moments even if you get high scores in practice tests or it feels as if you are a great speaker during mock interviews.

Although LPGA legend Pak Se-ri, one of the up-to-date popular TV celebrities, is only a newcomer to show biz, she never looks nervous in entertainment shows. The confident and easygoing attitude that she takes on a live show is a reminder of the bold and imposing gait of hers during her golden days in the LPGA.  

Being the greatest ever South Korean LPGA player with a record of 25 LPGA titles, Pak won all the six championships that continued to a sudden death play-off. As the terminology shows, the final players’ fate depends on their play at a hole, only driving thrill and excitement up to the climax. She is the only one who has recorded a full winning rate among the players who have fought more than five play-offs. Indeed, Pak deserves to be called the woman of steel in the field of golf that requires an absolute level of self-restraint and composure.

Kim Sei-young, who has recently won her first major at LPGA Championship, is known to stay focused and calm until the final hole. The four out of five winnings that she has recorded during her KLPGA career were dramatic come-from-behind victories. Since starting off the LPGA tour, she has won all the four play-offs that she ever had, where she defeated the competition in the first round – with three birdies and an eagle for each of them. That is why people think the red-color pants that she always wears in the final round as her good luck charm.

It is a well-known anecdote that Pak would practice her playing next to graves to steel her nerves. Asked about her secret to an incredible level of inner peace all the way to the very last swing, she answered, "The more you want to win, the more relaxation you need. That is the key,” sharing her know-how on practice. "Just because you swing numerously, doesn't necessarily mean that you can do better. I used to train myself in simulated situations that may often happen in actual matches. I practiced so many times to learn how to handle mistakes.” Kim Sei-young also says that she often works on image training in bedtime by supposing a play-off or a lead by just one stroke.

Kim holds a third-degree black belt in taekwondo while Pak used to be a track-and-field athlete until middle school. The two successful LPGA golfers were able to train their application ability and physical and mental strength by playing various sports. That is how they maintained a high level of concentration even in a play-off. It took 28 failures in LPGA majors for Kim to climb to the top, although being called the bold adventurer on the field. She has been faced with moments of self-destruction many times. She once said, "Awfully desperate for victory, I got carried away. However, my dreams came true after I learned how to maintain a peaceful state and play with flexibility and coolness kept in mind.”  

With the highest ever record of 14 homeruns in postseason in the history of South Korea's professional baseball, legendary slugger Lee Seung-yeop boasted his remarkable performance in the Olympics, the Asian Games and other important events. Nevertheless, he had an even higher strikeout rate of 24.4 percent at the plate in the Korean Series than 16.3 percent recorded during the regular season. This proves that the master of guess hitting swung his bat without any fear in a short-term competition where every single ball can decide who wins. Lee once said, “Opponents get bolder and more merciless in big events. They throw tricky balls to hit. All the eyes are on me. That is the moment when I should clear my mind. It is important to think less and have faith in my performance and experience.”

World-class figure skater Kim Yu-na gracefully ascended to the throne in the Olympics not because she performed her 120 percent but because she did the same as usual even with a heavy burden on her shoulders. Golf legend Bobby Jones commented, “Competitive golf is played mainly on a five-and-a-half-inch course...the space between your ears,” which means that you should let the mind control of the body. Chinese Confucian Mencius placed a high value on maintaining the imperturbable mind, which requires you to practice self-meditation. For every step taken to a grand goal, your journey is stained with sweat and tears. Just a few inches away from the destination, it takes self-control and composure to add the finishing touch to your dragon.

Jong-Seok Kim kjs0123@donga.com