Se Ri Pak: Profile of LPGA's Korean Trailblazer

Se Ri Pak of South Korea makes a tee shot on the 17th hole during the third round of the LPGA Kraft Nabisco Championship at the Mission Hills Country Club on March 31, 2007 in Rancho Mirage, California.

Robert Laberge/Getty Images


Se Ri Pak was the first Korean golfer to make an impact on the LPGA Tour. And what an impact: Within 10 years of joining the LPGA, Pak had already qualified for the Hall of Fame. Her success inspired scores of young Korean golfers, both male and female, and for generations to come the LPGA featured many Korean stars.

Fast Facts: Se Ri Pak

  • Known For: Being the first international golf star from Korea
  • Born: September 28, 1977 in Daejeon, Korea
  • Key Accomplishments: Winner of 25 LPGA Tour tournaments, including five major championships.
  • Famous Quote: "I had good mental training. I think the way my father taught me: 'Attack the course.'"
  • Fun Fact: Pak was 6-0 in playoffs during her LPGA career. That is the tour record for most playoff wins without a loss.

Tour Wins and Major Championship

Pak won 25 times total on the LPGA Tour, in addition to another 14 victories on the Korean LPGA. In major championships, Pak was a five-time champion: She won the LPGA Championship (now called the Women's PGA Championship) three times (1998, 2002, 2006), the U.S. Women's Open once (1998) and the Women's British Open once (2001).

Awards and Honors

• Member, World Golf Hall of Fame
• Vare Trophy (low scoring average) winner, 2003
• Recipient, Order of Merit from South Korea, 1998

Pak's Golf Career

When Se Ri Pak burst onto the scene in 1998 with one of the best rookie seasons in LPGA Tour history, she opened the door for dozens of Korean golfers who followed her to America. She thus inaugurated one of the most important trends in women's golf at the turn of the 21st century.

Pak didn't begin playing golf as a child in South Korea until age 14. She was a track star in high school, which helped develop the powerful thighs and legs she later used in her golf swing to create remarkable stability and balance.

Despite the late start, Pak still managed to win 30 amateur tournaments in South Korea. She turned pro in 1996. Over the next two years, she played 14 events on the Korean LPGA, winning six of them and finishing second in seven others.

Pak tied for first at LPGA Q-School in 1997 and joined the tour in 1998. And it didn't take her long to make a mark: Her first win was a major, the LPGA Championship, which she won wire-to-wire.

And then her second win was also a major, the U.S. Women's Open, which she won in a notable 20-hole playoff over amateur Jenny Chuasiriporn. Pak won again the next week at the Jamie Farr Kroger Classic, then won yet again two weeks later.

Her four wins as a rookie tied Pak with Annika Sorenstam to lead the Tour. While Pak ran away with Rookie of the Year honors, Sorenstam won the points-based Player of the Year award.

Pak was a strong and consistent winner over the next several years, with four wins in 1999, and five each in 2001 and 2002. She also won more majors, although she couldn't get past Sorenstam for a money title or Player of the Year honor. From 1998-2003, Pak was runner-up on the money list four times and third once more.

In 2003, Pak competed in a Korean men's tour event and finished tenth. She won three times on the LPGA that year, with 20 out of 26 Top 10s.

A slump followed, caused both by burnout and by a steady stream of injuries. But Pak did come back to win another major, the LPGA Championship, in 2006, defeating Karrie Webb in a playoff.

With her easy smile and quick laugh, Pak became a popular player with her fellow competitors. And after seeing her success, a flood of other Korean golfers started playing the LPGA, many with much success, although few came close to Pak's achievements.

At the 2007 LPGA Championship, Pak officially became a Hall of Famer when the minimum career-length requirement was fulfilled. But frequently dealing with injuries, Pak won only once more after that and retired from the LPGA Tour in 2016.

Se Ri Pak Trivia

  • Se Ri Pak qualified for World Golf Hall of Fame in 2005, but had to wait until 2007 for induction due to minimum career length rule. When inducted, she became the youngest (age 30) living player so honored.
  • She was 20 years old when she won the 1998 U.S. Women's Open, making her, at that time, the youngest-ever winner of that tournament.
  • Pak won that USWO in a 20-hole playoff, making that tournament, at 92 holes in length, the longest tournament ever in women's professional golf.
  • Pak and Juli Inkster are the only players to win two of the modern majors in their rookie seasons on the LPGA.
  • Her 6-0 record in playoffs is the best in LPGA Tour history (most wins without a loss).
  • Pak won the 1999 Jamie Farr Kroger Classic in a 6-way playoff, the largest playoff in Tour history.
  • Pak won the Farr five times (1998, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2007). That ties the LPGA record — shared by Mickey Wright and Annika Sorenstam — for most wins in a single LPGA event.