Pak becomes first woman to make the cut at a men's golf tour event in 58 years

Friday, October 24th 2003, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

YONGIN, South Korea (AP) _ Se Ri Pak on Friday became the first woman to make the cut against the men in 58 years, firing a two-day total of 2-over-par 146 on the Korean golf tour's US$ 250,000 SBS Super Tournament.

``Yesterday and today has been the most burdening time of my professional career, psychological and mentally,'' said the four-time LPGA major champion.

``I cannot put into words how happy I am to have made the cut.''

Four female golfers have took on the men this year before Pak, but none had reached this far.

LPGA No. 1 Annika Sorenstam became the first woman in 58 years to play on the PGA Tour but missed the cut at Colonial with rounds of 71-74. Connecticut club pro Suzy Whaley, 13-year-old amateur Michelle Wie and veteran Laura Davies also challenged the men but all failed to go into the weekend rounds.

Babe Zaharias played in PGA tournaments in Los Angeles, Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona, in 1945 and made the 36-hole cut for all three of them.

The 26-year-old Pak, who also has 17 other LPGA wins, shot rounds of 72 and 74 to join the weekend rounds of the Korean PGA event at the par-72 6,448-meter (7,052-yard) Lake Side Country Club in Yongin, south of Seoul.

Emboldened by the success, Pak says she wanted to try her challenge against the men in the big league _ the PGA Tour.

``If they invite me, I would go right now,'' Pak said with a big smile. ``This game has been a precious experience, so I think I could play more comfortably on a PGA Tour.''

Male players said Pak was lucky on the Lake Side course.

``I think the course was made to have Se Ri Pak make the cut,'' said Shin Yong-jin, this year's Korean tour money leader, who shot a 1-under 143 total. ``I knew she would make the cut even before coming into the game.''

Most of the par-5s were downhill, half the par-4s shorter than 400 yards and all par-3s under 190 yards. Despite her short drives, Pak could hit the green with middle- or short-irons on most par-4s.

Shin said it would have been difficult for Pak to make the cut at Woo Jeong Hills, where LPGA veteran Davies missed the cut against the men at the Asian PGA's Korean Open last month. She had 11-over 155, four strokes short of the cut, on the 7,042-yard course with three par-3s longer than 210 yards and many par-4s over 420 yards.

Pak, however, believes the men benefitted more from the Lake Side course.

``Because the fairways are wide and the course is short, I think it's more advantageous for the men,'' she said.

Pak shared the 29th place to secure a spot in the weekend rounds. Those who tied for 60th and above will make the cut.

Having made the cut, she is now hoping for a top 10 finish. She was trailing 6 strokes behind leader Cho Hyon-joon at 4-under 140.

Pak leveled par on the front nine with a birdie and a bogey, but struggled on the back nine to finish 2-over.

Hitting her second shot into the green-side bunker, she bogeyed the 7th hole, but immediately came back with a 2-meter (6-feet) birdie putt on the 544-yard par-5 8th.

On the 372-yard par-4 13th, she pulled her drive into a fairway bunker and hit the ball into the water. But she hit a brilliant wedge shot within two feet of the pin to close with a bogey. She had another bogey on the 14th hole.

Defending champion Yang Yong-eun fired a course-record 7-under 65, rebounding from the humiliating first round of 7-over-par 79. He drained six birdies but bogeyed one hole in the front nine, and added two birdies on the back.

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