SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Hall of Famer Se Ri Pak shot a bogey-free six-under 66 on Thursday for a share of the first-round lead with fellow South Korean Jee Young Lee in the State Farm Classic.
A five-time major winner, the 31-year-old Pak is seeking her first Top 10 finish in 10 starts this year. If she does, it’ll come against a field that features 49 of the LPGA Tour’s Top 50 money winners.
Kris Tamulis opened with a 67, and Natalie Gulbis, Suzann Pettersen and Anja Monke shot 68s at Panther Creek in the final tuneup for the McDonald’s LPGA Classic next week at Bulle Rock in Maryland.
Cristie Kerr and Paula Creamer were in a large group at 69, and Michelle Wie shot a 70. Kraft Nabisco winner Brittany Lincicome was in danger of missing the cut after opening with a 75.
Pak, however, was on target.
Seeking her 25th LPGA Tour win and first since the 2007 Jamie Farr Classic, she had six birdies — three on the final four holes — in tying her lowest round this year.
“Lately, my game’s been getting pretty settled down — getting closer and closer each week,” said Pak, who has finished no higher than 13th this year and is 44th on the money list.
With the season’s second major coming up next week, the timing is pretty good. Pak won the 2006 event at Bulle Rock, beating Karrie Webb in a playoff.
Pak began the day by hitting a sand wedge to 15 feet on par-five first and completed her round with a flurry, birdying three of the final four holes.
She was at three under when she hit a good tee shot and drove a wedge to about 10 feet for the birdie on the par-four 15th and two-putted from 35 feet for birdie on the par-five 16th. She finished the round with a seven-iron to about 15 feet on 18.
Jacobsen makes his return
LAKEWAY, Texas — Peter Jacobsen returns to the Champions Tour this week at the Triton Financial Classic for his first competitive appearance since having surgery on his left rotator cuff in January.
Jacobsen, the 2004 U.S. Senior Open winner who also had his right knee replaced last year, will tee it up today in the event at The Hills Country Club, in the city that spawned the first Champions Tour event nearly 30 years ago.
“I’m not in pain, but there is a lot of rust,” Jacobsen said Thursday.
He hasn’t played since the 2008 Senior Open last July.
“If I keep working at it, I hope I’ll be ready by the end of the year,” Jacobsen said after his pro-am round.
This year’s 54-hole tournament has drawn 12 of the Top 14 money winners this season, missing only last year’s runner-up Nick Price and Andy Bean, who withdrew earlier in the week.