KAPOLEI, Hawaii(AP) Se Ri Pak usually skips the Hawaiian start of the LPGA Tour season. This year she decided to get a head start on sharpening her game.
“I come out and I don’t want to screw around,” she said. “I’m here for winning and I’m here to play well.”
Pak, who needs to play just eight more events to qualify for the World Golf Hall of Fame this year, shot a 5-under 67 to trail rookie Angela Park and Stacy Prammanasudh heading into Friday’s second round of the Fields Open.
The 23-time tour winner who led the South Korean wave of players on the LPGA Tour said she has a renewed spirit for the sport, which once left her burned out and exhausted.
“I’m really excited to play and every day is going to be different and I play better and better,” she said.
Pak, who won her fifth career major last year at the LPGA Championship, made her move by holing a 30-foot downhill birdie putt on No. 10. She then hit a knockdown 4-iron shot to set up her 4-foot birdie putt on the par-3 12th, and followed with short birdie putts on Nos. 15 and 16.
“I feel that I’m ready but I don’t feel like I’m mentally ready and really strong,” she said. “But the wind actually woke me up right away.”
The 29-year-old Pak also recently enrolled at a university in Korea and plans to take online business courses. She also wants to open up a golf academy.
“I really love this sport,” she said.
While all the fans knew Pak, no one knew much about Park.
Without a single sponsor’s logo on her cap, Park shot a 66 in windy conditions Thursday for a share of the lead with Prammanasudh.
The 18-year-old rookie, making just her fourth LPGA Tour start, showed maturity and composure in difficult conditions at the wide-open Ko Olina Golf Course.
“Everything I looked at went in,” Park said. “I was so confident (and) very comfortable on the greens.”
Park started strong, birdieing five of the first seven holes and making the turn at 31. She drove into the rough for a bogey on No. 10, but hit a wedge to set up her 7-foot birdie putt on 14 and sank a 25-footer for birdie on the 16th to reach 6 under.
After a successful amateur career that included five AJGA wins, Park played on the Futures Tour last year and earned her LPGA Tour card by tying for fifth at Q-school.
“This is what I’ve always wanted to do. This is my dream,” she said.
Prammanasudh started on the back nine and had four straight birdies, starting with a 25-foot putt on No. 4, to shoot up the leaderboard and tie Park at 6 under.
The former University of Tulsa standout won the 2005 Franklin American Mortgage Championship for her lone LPGA Tour title.
Meaghan Francella survived a triple bogey and was at 68, along with Kyeong Bae. Jeong Jang, Jee Young Lee, Nicole Perrot and Pat Hurst shot 69s.
Karrie Webb, who moved up a spot to No. 2 in the latest world rankings, opened with a 70. Webb finished third at Turtle Bay last week after starting the year with a two-week Australian sweep. She won her third Women’s Australian Open title three weeks ago and added her sixth Australian Ladies Masters victory the following week.
Defending champion Meena Lee shot a 71, leaving her tied with LPGA player of the year Lorena Ochoa and Ai Miyazato, who had a team of photographers from her native Japan following her every move.
Last year, Lee won the inaugural Fields Open for her second tour title, holding off Michelle Wie in regulation and beating Seon Hwa Lee on the third hole of a playoff.
Paula Creamer, who won the SBS for her first LPGA title in 19 months, opened with a 72.