Simply South Korea


Annika Sorenstam 5, Se Ri Pak 4, Karrie Webb 2. Not scores on a golf card. Titles won this season on the LPGA Tour by the three dominant players in women’s golf. They also hold all four majors between them in a shut out of the American stars. Pak’s standout victory at the Women’s British Open on Sunday — closing with a 66 — was the third major title of her developing career and, at age 23, the Korean has a great chance to become the youngest ever player to hold the Grand Slam. That record was set by 26-year-old Webb in June when the Australian won the LPGA Championship. The South Korean, who burst onto the scene when winning two majors as a rookie in 1998, can complete the Slam by taking the Nabisco Championship title from Sweden’s Sorenstam next March. If she doesn’t she has two more chances to win it in 2003 and 2004 and still become the youngest. “I can’t guarantee it but, hopefully, every year four or five tournaments is enough to win, I guess,” said Pak, who came from eighth in the field to win golf’s newest major by two strokes from countrywoman Mi Hyun Kim. “I feel like my game is getting much stronger. “In the first two years I played pretty well, but didn’t have time to think about anything else. In 2000, I didn’t play well and didn’t improve. It got me a lot of stress, getting mad, upset because I’d had a great two years before,” said Pak, whose earnings from this championship, US$221,650, took her above Sorenstam in this year’s money list. “This has been a perfect time to learn more about my game, mentally and physically, to give me more time to grow up a lot better than in the first two years. So, after that, 2001 is just starting to be really great.” So, it seems, is Korean golf. Pak’s 66 gave her an 11 under total of 277 while Kim finished with a 71 for 270 to complete a first 1-2 for Korea in a major. Tied for third were four players on 280 — longtime leader Catriona Matthew and Janice Moodie of Scotland, leading American Laura Diaz, who started with six birdies in a 67 but couldn’t get closer, and Denmark’s Iben Tinning. Webb had a great chance of winning her third major of the season and third British Open title when she moved up to 7 under — two off the lead — after three rounds. But her final round was a big letdown. Despite her fourth consecutive birdie at the first, the Australian holder of the U.S. Open and LPGA Championship titles never challenged for the lead and finished with a 2-over 74 to tie for 15th on 283. Sorenstam’s game completely misfired. Winner of four tournaments in a row back in March and April, the Swede tied for 32nd, finishing 1 under. Although she started and finished well with rounds of 70 and 69, she was hurt by two 74s in the middle.