At the age of 20, Se Ri Pak, who was the only Korean on the LPGA Tour at the time, completed a three-shot victory at the LPGA Championship in Delaware and, in doing so, secured the first of her 25 LPGA titles and five career major championship victories.
While the maiden win was clearly significant for Pak herself, it would be the impact on the female game in South Korea her success would have that would play such a role in establishing the ongoing production line of high quality golfers from her homeland.
Pak’s victory began an almost endless stream of South Koreans entering the LPGA Tour, and set the scene for the nation's current dominance in women's golf.
While much of Pak’s success came in an era prior to the introduction of the women's Rolex World Rankings, two fellow countrywomen who followed in her footsteps, Jiyai Shin and Inbee Park, would become the World Number One at various stages of their careers and Park the first woman to win a gold medal in Olympic golf.
Pak could also take some credit for the flow on effect in the growth of the female game in other areas of Asia with both Japanese and Taiwanese players (Ai Miyazato and Yani Tseng) reaching World Number One and Thailand on the brink of producing a similar result in the form of Ariya Jutanugarn.
It would be even reasonable to suggest the success of Pak all those years ago has provided a belief in the men’s side of the professional game that a player from that region could succeed at the highest level, and we saw further evidence of that last week when Si Woo Kim took out the Players Championship.
May 17th, 1998 was a milestone for Pak and her trailblazing ways gave those who followed the belief they could succeed.
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