March 18, 2016 / 3:30 AM / 3 years ago

Korean trailblazer Pak to retire at season's end

(Reuters) - Five-times major winner and South Korean pioneer Pak Se-ri said on Thursday she would be calling time on her glittering career at the end of the season.

Pak Se-ri of South Korea tees off on the third hole during the third round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship LPGA golf tournament in Rancho Mirage, California, April 6, 2013. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

The 38-year-old made the announcement after completing her first round at JTBC Founders Cup in Phoenix, Arizona.

“I decided a couple of years ago. I just feel like (it’s) time,” Pak told reporters.

“(I decided to announce it because) I’m trying to say thanks to everybody. I’m going to miss everything.”

Pak, who shot an opening round three-under-par 69 on Thursday, has won 25 times on the LPGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2007.

Thursday’s leaderboard at Wildfire Golf Club was something of a tribute to her trailblazing career as her compatriot Lee Mi-Hyang shot a course-record 10-under 62 to lead by one stroke from another South Korean, Kim Sei-Young.

American Brittany Lang also shot a flawless 63 to share second place.

Lee started her round on the back nine and was nine-under through nine holes, prompting thoughts that she might get under the 60 mark.

“Maybe later. Maybe next time. I’m trying to make 59 one day,” she said. “Yeah, that’s my goal.”

Italian Giulia Sergas was alone in fourth after an opening round 64, which included eight birdies, an eagle and two bogeys. Five players were at seven-under after shooting 65s, including American Gerina Piller. “This is kind of like golfing in a bubble,” Piller said.

“I mean, it’s perfect weather, great golf course, perfect conditions. You can definitely get in a rhythm out there.”

Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles

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