Sports Outside the Beltway

Se Ri Pak wins the Bell Micro LPGA Classic

The Korean Golf Queen notched her 25th career victory today. She defeated Suzann Pettersen and Brittany Lincicome on the third hole of sudden death. It was Pak’s first win since 2007.

Today’s finish wasn’t what anyone expected when play ended yesterday. Oh Lincicome, Pak, and Pettersen began the day tied for the lead but they were expected to play 18 holes. Their rounds began but thunderstorms came through Mobile Alabama area shortly after 10 a.m. local time. Play was suspended and eventually the decision was made to shorten the tournament to 54 holes.Se Ri Pak

Which meant sudden death would decide the winner. As has been the LPGA’s custom for 3 or 4 years, a playoff is conducted on the 18th hole only. The 18th at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, Magnolia Grove, The Crossings, is a uphill par 4. Due to the heavy rains, which began Saturday night, the hole played long. Pettersen, Pak, and Lincicome are all above average in driving distance, so it could be said had an advantage. Except that Se Ri Pak was a career 5-0 in LPGA playoffs before today.

The first time around 18 saw all three players make par. On the 2nd hole of sudden death after each player hit a good drive, things began to deviate. Pettersen missed the green left, Pak flew the green into the back bunker, and Lincicome put her ball on the green but well right.

Pettersen did not hit a good 3rd shot at all. Pak’s bunker shot went about 6 feet past the hole, Lincicome missed her birdie putt. Pettersen missed her par putt but Pak made a clutch putt. Lincicome got par, so she and Se Ri went back to the 18th for a 3rd time.

Pak didn’t hit a good drive. She actually found a fairway bunker. Lincicome found the fairway and again Se Ri looked to be in trouble. Totally unfazed, she hit her approach to about 10 feet. Brittany on the other hand, had her approach shot find the front bunker. She blasted to 25-30 feet past the hole.

You got to give Lincicome credit. She made the long par putt. That put the tournament squarely on Se Ri who now faced almost the same putt she had on the second hole of sudden death, except it was a few feet longer in length and for a birdie now. Pak made it.

A few assorted notes

*- Is Se Ri Pak revving up for next month’s LPGA Championship? She’s won that tournament in 4-year intervals starting in 1998. She won it again in 2002 and 2006 and next comes…..2010. If you believe in that hocus pocus.

I still think Se Ri will become the first LPGA golfer to win the same tournament six times. That is as long as the Jamiie Farr continues to be played. It’s contract with the LPGA ends this year.

*- Who will be on Golf World’s cover this week- Se Ri or Adam Scott the winner of the Texas Open? When Pak won the Michelob Light in 2004 and garnered the last point needed for HOF induction, GWorld put Joey Sindelar on the cover. Only last month the magazine the winner of the Kraft Nabisco(Yani Tseng) for Houston Open winner Anthony Kim when it came time for their cover. When Ai Miyazato won for the 3rd time this year and Lorena Ochoa retired, Golf World elected to put Hunter Mahan on the cover as part of its Players Championship preview. So I’d bet on Scott or some feature story. Like Ted Schulz’s hopes for the Champions Tour. Golf World’s coverage of the LPGA is pathetic.

Someone might point out that Golf World puts men on their covers for sales purposes. Golf World is not a news stand publication.

*- Pettersen has another ‘just missed’ chance at a LPGA win. Since winning 5 times in 2007, the Norwegian has only been able to notch one win. In the process Pettersen has had over a half dozen excellent opportunities but hasn’t been able to get it done.

A win today by Pettersen would have knocked Ji Yai off the top of the Rolex Rankings. Maybe I missed the Golf Channel announcers explanation., but I assume it would have been Pettersen at the top then. There is a very slim margin separating the top four women golfers in the world at this moment.

*- For the sixth time in six tournaments this year, an Asian golfer has won on the LPGA Tour. Lincicome’s finish today is one of three second place finishes American golfers have this year.

*- Golf Channel’s announcers in order to build up Lincicome(who I like by the way) emphasized her brilliant shot to win the Kraft Nabisco last year and that her three LPGA wins, includes a Match Play event, and that her victories all came in prestigious events.

As brilliant as Lincicome’s shot was, Se Ri Pak hit an even greater one to win the 2006 LPGA Championship. She hit a 3-utility club on the first hole of sudden death to 3 inches. That trumps Lincicome’s approach to 18 which was inside of five feet for eagle.

I’m not really surprised that Pak’s shot isn’t remembered. When golf writers talked comeback player of the year in 2006, Pak was universally forgotten. Se Ri hit one of the greatest shots in LPGA history but no one seems to remember, and that’s sad. Golf Channel’s announcers had no problem remembering the details of Lincicome’s Match Play win, which was played exactly one week after Se Ri won the 2006 LPGA.

How prestigious can a tournament be if it only exists for three years? That’s how long the non-majors, the Ginn Open and the HSBC Women’s World Match Play Championship lasted before going belly up. They were nice wins for Brittany, but should a tournament with so little history be considered a prestigious win?

Also commenting on Se Ri’s win- Hound Dog, The Constructivist, Brent Kelly, and my fellow South Floridian Randall Mell. Randall hasn’t forgotten Pak’s winning shot at the 2006 LPGA.

Photo by Dave Martin/Getty Images

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If I understood TGC correctly, Pettersen would have become #1 if she won the tournament and none of the players ahead of her placed better than 4th — and none of them were even close.

Se Ri has been “lost” to most reporters since Annika went to the top and the “young guns” showed up. I think you could make a case that Karrie Webb has suffered the same fate. There seems to be a tendency to write off the “legends,” especially if they aren’t American. (Juli Inkster — who I think is still awesome — is viewed more like Fred Couples or Tom Watson, who, of course, are also both American.)

Posted by Mike Southern | May 17, 2010 | 11:36 am | Permalink

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