"When she first came here and won, that's when the craze started," said LPGA Tour player Jeong Jang, 27 on Se Ri Pak.
After all the talk of teenagers, a 29-year-old won. And despite a leader board covered with international flags, an American, only one of seven in the top 25, prevailed. But a glance at the final leader board from the 62nd U.S. Women's Open ten years ago tells you how much the world of women's competitive golf has changed. Not only is it much, much younger, but it is, to an extent impossible to fathom at Pumpkin Ridge, Asian, mainly Korean.
It wasn't that the Open Top 25 leader board ten years ago wasn't international, but most of the internationals were from Canada, Europe and Australia. There was only one teenager, a 19-year-old named Se Ri Pak, from Korea, one of only two Asians and the lone Korean in the Top 25. (She would win the Open the following year and set off the Korean charge, well-told by ESPN's Bob Harig this week).
This year there were six Koreans in the Top Ten (not counting two other Parks, Brazil's Angela and the U.S.'s In-Bee) and virtually half of the Top 25 were Korean. __
1997 U. S. Women's Open Top 25, (internationals in bold) Alison Nicholas, England, 35 Nancy Lopez, 40 Kelly Robbins, 31 __Karrie Webb, Australia, 22____Stefania Croce, Italy, 27__Lisa Hackney, England, 29 Michele Redman, 32 Tammie Green, 37 Donna Andrews, 30 Chris Johnson, 39 Akiko Fukushima, Japan, 24 Patty Sheehan, 40 Dawn Coe-Jones, Canada, 36 Juli Inkster, 37 Dottie Pepper, 31 Brandie Burton, 25 Deb Richard, 34 Liselotte Neumann, Sweden, 31____Trish Johnson, England, 31 Kim Williams, 34 Pat Hurst, 28 Caroline Pierce, England, 33 Kelli Kuehne, 20 Se Ri Pak, Korea, 19 Luciana Bemvenuti, Brazil, 28 Karen Weiss, 31
At this rate, consider what the 2017 final leader board will look like.