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Pak Trying to Outdo Sorenstam

Pak in Good Company With Sorenstam

Golf: LPGA's top rookie to battle top money winner for player-of-year award in Tour Championship.

November 19, 1998|From Associated Press

LAS VEGAS — Se Ri Pak was just a qualifier looking forward to her first season on tour when Annika Sorenstam won last year's LPGA Tour Championship in a three-way playoff.

Today, Pak will be paired in the final group with Sorenstam in the season-ending tournament--with an outside chance of adding the player-of-the-year award to the rookie-of-the-year title she long ago tucked away.

To say the least, it's been quite a debut season for the 21-year-old, who went from medalist in tour qualifying school to two-time major winner and became a hero in her native South Korea.

"It is a special year," Pak said.

Pak could make it even more special with a victory in the PageNet Tour Championship, which features the tour's top 30 money winners going after the $215,000 first prize.

Though Sorenstam already has locked up the season money title and scoring crown, Pak could move past her and win the Rolex Player of the Year title with a win on the Desert Inn Country Club course on the Las Vegas Strip.

Even finishing first or second in 13 of the 14 pro tournaments she played in South Korea couldn't prepare Pak for the success she has had in her first year on the LPGA Tour.

"At the start of the season I had to learn many things about the golf course and the country," Pak said. "I thought two to three years to just keep working and practicing."

Almost overlooked in the hoopla has been another great year by Sorenstam. The Swede has locked up the money title with more than $1 million in earnings, is leading the player-of-the-year race and is well ahead in the Vare Trophy scoring average competition.

Sorenstam, seeking her second straight player-of-the-year award, also is looking to make a bit of LPGA history.

No woman golfer has ever averaged fewer than 70 strokes a round through an entire year. But Sorenstam is at 69.88 coming into the final tournament on a course that has proved friendly to players in the past.

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