Pak's late birdie flurry captures Betsy King crown
by Associated Press
KUTZTOWN, Pa. (AP) ? Se Ri Pak wasn't feeling well earlier in the week and nearly withdrew from the Betsy King Classic. She's glad she didn't.
The South Korean birdied the final four holes Sunday for a 9-under-par 63 and tournament-record 21-under 267 total in the Betsy King Classic.
"I just wasn't feeling that well Tuesday morning," Pak said. "I played nine holes, and I usually play 18. I talked to my parents and my caddie because I just didn't feel right. I had a late pro-am Wednesday and it was hard. It wasn't until late Wednesday that I decided to play."
Pak, who earned $180,000 for her third victory of the season and 16th in five full seasons on the LPGA Tour, had an eagle, nine birdies and two bogeys in the final round on the Berkleigh Country Club course.
The 24-year-old star matched the course record of 63 set by Tina Barrett in 2000, and broke the tournament record of 18-under 270 set by Annika Sorenstam in 1996. She also had the best 72-hole score on the tour this year, topping Sorenstam's 19 under in the Evian Masters.
But Pak didn't start the final round well, with consecutive bogeys on her second and third holes.
"My putting wasn't that good early on," Pak said. "After (two bogeys) I thought it might not be my day. I felt really good coming into this tournament, but I didn't feel that good early."
Pak quickly turned things around, chipping in a 30-footer pin high from the right of the pin for an eagle on the No. 5. She ended her front nine with birdies on her Nos. 6 and 8.
On the back nine, Pak began her assault when she sank a 6-foot putt on 12 followed by a 7-footer on 13 for a pair of consecutive birdies. Stanford took a one-stroke lead with a birdie on 10, but she parred the next two holes. When Stanford birdied 13, she and Pak were both 17-under. Pak parred the next hole before she ran off four consecutive birdies.
The highlight of her day was a 200-foot drive with a 7-wood on her second shot on 18 that fell just 3 feet short of the cup. Her putt rolled just off the rim and she settled for an eagle.
"That was my best shot," Pak said. "When I hit it, I thought it was going in."
Angela Stanford closed with a 66 to finish second at 18-under 270, her first top-10 finish of the season. Australian star Karrie Webb had a 69 to finish third at 16 under, and Ellis, winless on the LPGA Tour, shot a 74 to tie for sixth at 13 under.
"I just wanted to take it one swing at a time," Stanford said. "I feel a lot better about my career now, and I can just go out there and play. I figured as well as I could make birdies I had a chance."
With three victories on the tour this season, Pak hopes for two more victories over an anticipated seven tournaments through the remainder of the season. Still, she believes she has much work to do.
"I don't think this is my best season," Pak said. "It has been very consistent. Two years ago, there was a lot of ups and downs. This year, I have been much more consistent with my driver."
Mexican Lorena Ochoa, who topped the Futures Tour money list to earn a 2003 LPGA tour card, closed with a 70 to tie for 14th at 10-under 278. The 20-year-old Ochoa won three times on the developmental tour after winning an NCAA-record eight titles this season for the University of Arizona.
Defending champion Heather Daly Donofrio shot 73 for an even-par 288, tying tournament host Betsy King (75).