ShopRite LPGA Classic
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Pak goes wire-to-wire to win

Joon Chul Pak received an LPGA tournament trophy as a Father's Day gift.

His daughter Se Ri Pak shot a 5-under 66 on a soggy, windy course today to win the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

Sure, the tour's 1998 rookie of the year was happy to end her nearly year-long victory drought. The $150,000 winning purse was nice, too. But she was most excited about making good on a promise to give her father the Classic trophy.

"Before I started, I said I wanted to get the trophy for my father," she said.

And she did.

Playing in a driving rain, she birdied two of her first three holes and then added four more to post a 54-hole total of 198 in the $1 million tournament.

Pak led from wire to wire, finishing at 15 under, two shots better than surging Trish Johnson of Britain, who called the weather "a perfectly normal English day."

With Johnson already in the clubhouse at 13 under after a 65, Pak arrived at No. 18 with a one-shot lead.

Needing only to par the 508-yard par-5 to win, she finished with a flourish, making a 3-foot birdie putt as the rain-soaked crowd, many Korean-Americans on hand to cheer the 21-year-old native of Daejeon, Korea, at the Seaview Marriott Resort erupted in applause.

She hugged her father and said, "See, Dad? I knew it. I gave you a trophy."

U.S. Women's Open champion Juli Inkster had a closing 69 and finished third at 203, while Rosie Jones was fourth with a 65 for a 204 and Emilee Klein was fifth, another stroke back after a 68.

Defending champion Annika Sorenstam finished at 206 with a closing 69.

Pak, who won four tournaments last year en route to capturing LPGA rookie of the year honors, hadn't won in 1999. It felt good - for both father and daughter.

Joon Chul Pak said the Korean media has put pressure on his daughter -- and him -- after the sensational rookie season.

"This win takes the pressure off. With the pressure off, she can go to the next level," he said.

Pak, who won four tournaments last year en route to capturing rookie honors, hadn't won in 1999.

"I'm very happy," she said. "Finally, I get on in 1999. So I can say `See? I got one.' No more questions anymore. I got one."

She set the tone early, chipping in from 35 feet on No. 2, a 407-yard par-4, for a birdie.

"I know the green is pretty hard, fast and bouncy. I just wanted to get close, but the wind helped and it rolled and rolled and rolled. It was kind of lucky," Pak said.

The shot gave her confidence from there, especially when she got in trouble. Even the weather -- gusty winds off the bay and occasionally heavy rains -- didn't faze her.

"Today, nothing bothered me," she said.

The lone blemish on her card came at No. 6, the same hole she double-bogeyed Saturday. She two-putted the hole Sunday, then rebounded with birdies on two of the next three holes.

Tammie Green got a hole-in-one. She used a 9-wood to ace the 179-yard 14th.

 

AP


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