President Trump’s question for Se Ri Pak: Why are South Korean women beating Americans?

July 3, 2019

Golf legend Se Ri Pak was part of a group that met President Donald Trump during his trip to South Korea last weekend. The group had dinner Saturday at the presidential compound, Cheong Wa Dae, and Pak said she chatted golf with the president. Trump had a specific question:

“We talked about Korean players. And he was wondering why American players aren’t playing as well as South Koreans,” Pak said, according to Yonhap News Agency.

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The success of South Korean women on the LPGA tour most recently drew headlines when Hank Haney made a series of dismissive remarks about their presence and success, ultimately leading to Haney’s indefinite suspension from his radio show. But the shift in demographic dominance is undeniable in the women’s game. Led by world Nos. 1 and 2 S.H. Park and Jin-Young Ko, South Koreans own four of the top seven spots in the world rankings and 11 of the top 21. Players from South Korea have also won eight of the 17 events played in 2019, versus just two wins by Americans.

Trump had a front-row seat to Park’s ability during her victory at the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open at his course in Bedminster, N.J. He sent out a congratulatory tweet at the time.

Pak revealed the conversation at a press conference held Wednesday to announce a match for charity that would pit an “LPGA Legends” team of Annika Sorenstam, Lorena Ochoa, Pak and Juli Inkster against a “Next Generation” team that will include Park, Ariya Jutanugarn, Lexi Thompson and Minjee Lee, according to Yonhap. The event is scheduled for Sept. 21-22 at Seolhaeone Resort in Yangyang, South Korea.

Despite Trump’s stated desire to play golf with her, Pak, who has known Trump for years, wasn’t sure it would happen. “He told me he’d like to play with me, but I don’t know if it’s possible, given the position he’s in,” Pak said. “But since he loves golf so much, maybe it will happen someday.”

Pak, herself partly responsible for the wave of excellent Korean players, retired in 2016 with 25 LPGA titles, including five majors.

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