One thing missing for Se Ri Pak
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. -- There remains an empty page in Se Ri Pak's sizable resume.
For all of Pak's golf accomplishments, and the list is immense, winning the Kraft Nabisco Championship is not one of them.
Pak, 36, already has a place in the World Golf Hall of Fame. She owns 33 professional titles, 25 LPGA victories and five career major championships. Single-handedly Pak turned South Korea from golf wasteland to hotbed, coming to the United States in 1998 to produce rookie-year victories in both the LPGA Championship and U.S. Women's Open, igniting a golf boom in her homeland that has since altered the game's power base.
I think I really, really giving myself too (much) pressure heading into this week each time. Because my first goal was trying to get to the Hall of Fame. ... But the second thing is to have Grand Slam, my own career Grand Slam.Se Ri Pak
And then there's the Kraft Nabisco, a banana peel on the floor of Pak's career.
"Every time coming here, just my game has been totally different," she said.
Making her 16th career Kraft Nabisco appearance at Mission Hills Country Club this week, Pak has never finished better than a tie for eighth.
Adding to the frustration, Pak's list of major titles covers the LPGA Championship, the U.S. Women's Open and Women's British Open. Sure, after elevating the Evian, the LPGA now claims five majors, but in Pak's heart, the Kraft Nabisco is the only piece she is missing in a career Grand Slam.
"I don't know," she said. "I think I really, really giving myself too (much) pressure heading into this week each time. Because my first goal was trying to get to the Hall of Fame, which is the biggest goal I have before I moved to the U.S. But the second thing is to have Grand Slam, my own career Grand Slam."
There's no time like the present.
Playing steady and strong, Pak made two birdies and no bogeys Friday and after scores of 67-70 will head into Saturday's third round 7 under and tied with 19-year-old American Lexi Thompson for the 36-hole lead.
"Well, I've played with Se Ri quite a bit," said Thompson, who was 3 years old when Pak won her first major. "I don't know too much about her accomplishments, but I obviously know she's an amazing player and great role model.
"She's an amazing player. But I'm just going to go out there and play my own game."
Pak hopes it's finally the weekend she will do the same.
"Well, I mean, always really good to be on top, atop the leaderboard," she said. "I'm down here many times, but backed off a little bit the last couple years. Heading to the weekend, of course, I need to just focus on my own game and play as best as I can."
Heretofore, that has been Pak's problem. She has not played her game.
Pak has told the story of sitting with family members, who were freely discussing the best way to join her in the traditional winner's leap into Poppie's Pond. For so many years, she has made no secret about the obsession she has with this title.
And with each passing failure, the monkey on her back added pounds.
"Golf is a really silly game and fun and a hard game," she said. "I know I learned a lot the last 17 years -- been so many great up and downs, good day, bad day, OK day. All those things can happen in playing 18 holes."
So that will be the weekend game plan: Trust her experience.
"I have so many times been up top, so that (gives) me a lot of good experience." she said. "I know what I'm doing, and I know what to do.
"But this week this is probably the best moment like it just feels good. Just feels really calm. I don't know why, just making everything throughout the round has been so perfect. A perfect feel for me."