Geum Yi

Biggest names in women’s golf to meet in S. Korea for exhibition match

September 19, 2019

A who’s who in women’s golf will descend on an east coast town in South Korea for a weekend of an exhibition match, giving fans in the golf-crazed nation a rare opportunity to see stars from the past and present.

Seolhaeone Resort in Yangyang, about 215 kilometers east of Seoul in Gangwon Province, will host the Seolhaeone Legends Match on Saturday and Sunday, featuring four World Golf Hall of Famers and four active players on their own path to the sport’s shrine.

Headlining the star-studded roster as the brains behind the match will be Pak Se-ri, a South Korean golf icon with 25 LPGA titles, including five major championships.

She will be one of four members of the “LPGA Legends” team, which will also feature Annika Sorenstam, Lorena Ochoa and Juli Inkster.

The “Next Generation” team is made up of four of LPGA’s best today: South Korean star Park Sung-hyun, Ariya Jutanugarn, Minjee Lee and Lexi Thompson. All four are inside the top 10 in the current world rankings.

One player each from the two sides will be paired up for the foursomes match Saturday.

Fan voting determined the pairings earlier this month. Pak will play with Thompson, while Park will team up with Sorenstam. Inkster-Lee and Ochoa-Jutanugarn will be the other pairings.

Pak, 41, is largely credited with inspiring a generation of future LPGA stars in South Korea with her historic feats in the late 1990s. She captured two majors as a rookie in 1998, including a particularly memorable victory at the U.S. Women’s Open, where the shoeless Pak made a stunning recovery shot from a water hazard to set up the clinching putt in the playoff.

That career-defining moment has been forever etched in Korean golf history. And Sorenstam herself enjoyed a historic career while going toe-to-toe against Pak during their peak years.

The Swedish legend won 72 titles, including 10 majors. She was the LPGA Player of the Year eight times, including in five straight seasons starting in 2001.

And when Sorenstam’s reign at the top ended, Ochoa took over, winning four consecutive Player of the Year awards from 2006 to 2009. The Mexican star also won four scoring titles and captured 24 of her 27 career titles during that four-year span.

Ochoa abruptly retired in May 2010 at age 28, having spent the past 158 consecutive weeks as world No. 1.

Whereas Ochoa had a dominant but short peak, Inkster, an American legend with seven major titles, enjoyed a long and storied career. She is the only LPGA golfer to win multiple majors in three consecutive decades — three in the 1980s, two in the 1990s and two more in the 2000s.

Park, world No. 2, has won seven times in three LPGA seasons, including two majors. She has been No. 1 during each of those three seasons, including twice in 2019.

Jutanuagarn is the 2018 LPGA Player of the Year who won the tour’s money title on the strength of three victories. The former No. 1, now ranked eighth, is without a win in 2019 but has posted nine top-10 finishes, tied for second most this season.

Lee, born in Australia to Korean parents, is a five-time LPGA winner who reached a career-high No. 2 in the rankings in April and hasn’t dropped out of the top 10 all season.

Thompson is the top American at No. 3 in the world. The 11-time winner has at least a victory in each of the past seven seasons.

In all, these eight golfers have combined for 29 major championships.

After the first day of foresome competition, the four players on the Next Generation team will compete in a skins game on the second day. The four legends will hit the ceremonial first tee shots.

The prize money won from each hole during the skins competition will be donated to help Gangwon Province with its recovery efforts from devastating wildfires earlier this year.