Report by Tim Maitland
Se Ri Pak heads for Singapore and this week's HSBC Women's Champions with a very new look. This year her bright yellow golf bag bears a large World Golf Hall of Fame badge and an even larger "S" logo. Part Gothic, part hip-hop the S also dominates the cap on her head.
The Hall of Fame membership was confirmed when she celebrated her 30th birthday last year, but the S brand, which she is working on with her elder sister Yoo Ri, won't hit the streets of Seoul until the summer.
"This is part of my sister and my dream. My sister has been trying so hard to become a designer and suddenly she's becoming popular so it seemed like a good idea to get into golf wear," Se Ri explained.
"I was thinking about what I could do for my career and I decided on having my own clothing line for the first time. We play golf for at least 360 days, and we know the uniform you have to wear on the golf course. This golf game is unbelievable. Everyone loves it. Of course it's kind of stressful as a job, but it's a fun sport and graceful."
Yoo Ri has been designing clothes for Se Ri for several yearsXXX but only now have they decided to take it to the streets.
"We've started testing and it's getting popular. People recognized it and people loved it and other designers were calling her, so we decided to bring it out in public," said the younger of the two Pak siblings.
"We'll probably start this summer at the latest. I'm going to have the clothing for sale on the market. We're kind of rushing it and it's pretty hard to do that. We've been making clothes just for me and this is a little harder."
Se Ri starts 2008 with the same goal she's had since 2002, the year after she added the Women's British Open to the LPGA Championship and US Open titles she claimed in her rookie season in 1998.
"I'm looking for my career Grand Slam. I've been planning for 10 years but it wouldn't happen – hopefully this year. Just the one, but it always gives me a hard time. Hopefully it'll be this year," she explained.
"I've set it as my next goal. Hopefully in 08 I'll play better than 07. I'm always setting my goals so high my expectation was winning as many as I could but I guess that doesn't happen in golf. Sometimes you just give yourself more pressure. This year I'm setting my goals to finish in as many tournaments as I can in the top 10 and at least play better than in 07. That'll make things a lot more simple for me. I'm still trying to have a good year though."
The one missing from her CV is the Kraft Nabisco Championship, which is in April. Until then, the HSBC Women's Champions is high on her list of priorities.
"I'm looking forward to it. It would probably be a good time to get my game started for the HSBC. I'm looking forward to it and I hope to have a great week. This week (The Fields Open) is probably going to be like a warm up. Hopefully next week is going to be the one!"
For a couple of years, Pak readily concedes she became a victim of her own perfectionism, but says last year, when she won the Corning Classic, she was far easier on herself.
"I had two years of downhill. The one giving the pressure was me setting my goals too high and my expectations were so high every week and I was making little mistakes and was never able to take victory. Of course you're going to miss sometimes, but I was like "why? Why miss? I practiced that shot!" Everything became so tight and pressured and I had a two year gap before I realized it's not the end of the world," she said.
Now, at an age where most male golfers are only just entering the winner's circle, Se Ri can turn to the Hall of Fame plaque on her bag to know she can relax, because she has nothing left to prove.
"I just want to enjoy my golf and maybe have an even better career. I know I have so many wins from 10 years ago, but starting 08 I may be a different person, a different player and probably a different career."
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