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LPGA releases documentary celebrating Pak Se-ri's monumental major victory

July 6, 2023 - 10:56 By Yonhap
This image on Thurday, shows the title of its new documentary, "The Shot," celebrating the 25th anniversary of S. Korean legend Pak Se-ri's victory at the 1998 US Women's Open. (Yonhap)

The LPGA has released a documentary celebrating the 25th anniversary of a groundbreaking major championship victory by S. Korean legend Pak Se-ri.

Titled "The Shot," the documentary premiered on LPGA's YouTube channel and at 8 p.m. Wednesday. It explores how Pak's win at the 1998 US Women's Open influenced future generations of golfers in her native country and across Asia.

The title of the documentary is a nod to Pak's now-iconic shot on the 18th hole at Blackwolf Run in Wisconsin during the 18-hole playoff against Jenny Chuasiriporn.

Pak sent her tee shot well left of the fairway, and the ball nestled a foot from a water hazard. Providing an image that would stay with her for the rest of her career, Pak took off her shoes and socks to wade into the water, choked down on her club and punched the ball out toward the fairway.

From what could have been a disastrous situation, Pak somehow walked away with a bogey. Chuasiriporn also bogeyed that hole, and the playoff went the extra distance. Pak drained her birdie putt on the 20th hole to become the first S. Korean to win the US Women's Open.

Though Pak, now 45 and retired, had won another major earlier that same year, the US Women's Open win is considered the career-defining moment for the Hall of Famer. Many S. Korean golfers in the younger generation have cited that moment as the one that inspired them to pick up the golf club. Collectively dubbed "Se-ri's Kids," the group includes LPGA Hall of Famer Park In-bee, and major champions Ryu So-yeon, Choi Na-yeon and Chun In-gee. A quarter century after Pak's victory, S. Korea is one of the powerhouses in women's golf, with Ko Jin-young having recently set a record for most weeks spent at No. 1 in the world rankings with 160 weeks.

Five other players of Korean heritage have been ranked as the best player in the world since 2006, and 47 others have won on the LPGA Tour.

The societal context in the late 1990s is also important. S. Korea at the time was going through a financial crisis, and Pak's victory was viewed as something that gave people back home hope.

"After I won the US Open, we still had tournaments the following week. It's not like right now with internet advanced that I could check what was going on and being said in Korea," Pak was quoted as saying by "But how I knew was when I went to each tournament, I learned through the Koreans living abroad. They would always thank me when they saw me, and at first, I didn't know what that meant. But hearing what they said and their situations, I realized what their thank-you's meant." (Yonhap)