Moments after winning the Jamie Farr Kroger Classic with the lowest LPGA score ever, Se Ri Pak had some incredibly bad news for those she had left in the dust.
"I am only 20 years old. I have many, many years left," the rookie from South Korea said. "I can play many, many years, can play in many, many tournaments. I will play my best in every tournament."Her final-round 5-under-par 66, on the heels of record rounds of 61 and 63, left her at 23-under 261. The victory, less than a week after winning the U.S. Women's Open in a 20-hole playoff on Monday, was worth $120,000.
The 261 total is the lowest in a 72-hole LPGA tournament, four strokes better than the previous record set by Wendy Ward at the 1997 Fieldcrest Classic on a par-72 course and matched by Lisa Walters in this year's Oldsmobile Classic on a par-72 course and Kelly Robbins in last year's Farr on the 6,319-yard, par-71 Highland Meadows Golf Club.
Her 23-under score in relation to par matched the lowest in LPGA history, set by Ward last year and tied by Walters.
"I will keep playing my game," she said. "I have many, many things to learn. This is a good start, but I must do much work. I am not finished yet."
While speaking in the interview room, she cuddled her beagle puppy, Happy. She has won two tournaments in as many starts since buying the dog - "For $300!" she exclaimed - just before the Open.
She needn't worry about the cost. She has only three top-10 finishes in her 16 tournaments this year, but all three were wins. Her other victory came in another major, the LPGA Championship, and she now leads the money list with $645,170.
Pak's 61 in the second round was the lowest score ever in an LPGA event. Her 63 in the third round gave her the lowest consecutive rounds in tour history.
She also became only the third player, following Louise Suggs in 1952 and Jane Geddes in 1986, to win the U.S. Women's Open and then win her next start.
Pak has been compared to male phenom Tiger Woods. Others have measured her rapid start on the women's tour with that of Nancy Lopez, who won nine LPGA tournaments as a rookie in 1978, or with another Hall of Famer, Betsy King.
Pak said she has a long way to go to measure up to those players.
"That is my future," she said. "I want to be like Nancy Lopez, like Betsy King. If they play good or not, they are nice to people and treat them like friends. They do many things to help people. I am really happy that people see me like Nancy or Betsy King."
Senior Players Championship
DEARBORN, Mich. - Gil Morgan opened a huge lead with birdies on six of the first 10 holes and made it hold up for a three-stroke victory over Hale Irwin in the Senior Players Championship on Sunday.
Morgan shot 66 for a 21-under-par 267, breaking Dave Stockton's 1994 record of 17-under at the TPC of Michigan. Irwin, the Senior PGA Tour's leading money-winner, closed with a 68 for 270.
It was the fourth win this season for Morgan, who collected $300,000 to increase his 1998 earnings to $1.3 million.
Quad City Classic
COAL VALLEY, Ill. - Steve Jones won his eighth PGA Tour title and prevented another first-time winner with a one-stroke victory over Scott Gump on Sunday in the $1.1 million Quad City Classic.
Jones' 4-under-par 66 gave him a 17-under 263 total for his first tournament win since the Bell Canadian Open last September. The 1996 U.S. Open champion earned $279,000 with the victory.
Gump, who was trying to become the seventh first-time winner on tour this year and the third in as many weeks, finished with a 68 for a 264 total, one stroke better than Kenny Perry, who closed with a 68.
Gump was tied with Jones until he bogeyed No. 15 after driving into the rough.
Defending champion David Toms had a final-round 71 and was fourth at 266. His tee shot on No. 16 left him an unplayable lie under a tree and he double-bogeyed to drop from one stroke behind Jones to three.
STATELINE, Nev. - For Mario Lemieux, it was the next best thing to winning a Stanley Cup.
Lemieux made three straight birdies capped by a 10-foot putt on the final hole Sunday. The closing rally was part of a surge that saw him make up a five-stroke deficit in the last six holes to take the ninth Isuzu Celebrity Golf Championship at Edgewood Tahoe.
Lemieux, who had an opening round 76, came back to shoot 67 and 69 in the last two rounds of the 54-hole tournament to finish at 4-under 212, one stroke ahead of Kansas City quarterback Billy Joe Tolliver and former Miami Pro Bowl safety Dick Anderson.
Denver quarterback John Elway shot a 2-under 70 in the final round and finished in a tie for fourth with former Dodgers pitcher Rick Rhoden, a four-time winner of the event.
Lemieux was five strokes off the pace after 12 holes, but he birdied four of the last five holes to overtake Tolliver and Anderson, both past champions.