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Learning To Smile


I started playing golf when I was 14, but it was three years
later when I saw my future. That was when I saw Nancy Lopez on
TV. I didn't know she was a great golfer. All I knew was that
she always smiled. My goal was to be that way, too. I am getting
closer, but it hasn't been easy.

Like lots of 20-year-olds, I love video games (Tetris is my
favorite), movies and just having fun. But because I'm a Korean,
I usually look very serious. This comes from studying
Confucianism at home and in school. Confucianism, the philosophy
we live by in Korea, teaches a person to be solemn and
respectful, and not to show how she is feeling inside. That's
why I don't laugh and smile much on the course. But here in the
U.S. everybody seems to show emotions. Now that I am here, I'm
trying to be a little more like you. When I won the LPGA
Championship in May--my first major--it felt wonderful, but I
didn't cry. When I won the U.S. Open this month and saw how
happy it made my mom and dad, though, I cried for the first time
in my life.

It has been such an emotional year, with so many new things, that
I sometimes feel like I'm dreaming. One of the hardest new things
is English, but I think I'm improving there. I like talking to my
golf ball in English. I'll say, "Get up" or "Kick left" or "Get
in the hole." Do you think I have found a language the ball

What I like most about golf in the U.S. is the big, loud
galleries. Many of the people want my autograph, and that's O.K.
with me. I must be good, or they wouldn't ask. When I sign, I
always put a smile and a flag with the number 18 by my name. The
flag is for golf, the smile is because I still want to be like
Nancy. Even if I don't win, I want to give people a smile.

Se Ri Pak finished 44th at last week's JAL Big Apple Classic.

COLOR PHOTO: JIM GUND [Se Ri Pak on golf course]