South Korean Players Storm LPGA Tour

By Associated PressJune 20, 2006, 4:00 pm
SEOUL, South Korea -- Despite winning her first LPGA tour title at 19, Jee Young Lee rates herself a late bloomer in her native South Korea, which is swamping women's golf with winners.
'I started golf when I was in the sixth grade in elementary school, which is relatively late as Korean professional golfers go,' she said while warming up for the LPGA Championship last week.
Lee, now 20 and in her rookie year on the tour, shot a 4-under 284 to tie for 14th with countrywoman Meena Lee at the LPGA Championship. The winner was another Korean, Se Ri Pak, who widely is credited with launching an avalanche of Korean women golf winners.
Players of Korean descent have claimed seven of 14 LPGA events so far this year. Nine of the 2006 runners-up are Korean, and nine are in the top-20 money list.
And that's not even including Michelle Wie of Hawaii, whose parents are of Korean descent.
Before Pak shot to stardom by winning two majors in her rookie year in 1998, Korean women had made almost no impact on the LPGA. In 1997, the women's tour had no South Korean members. Now there are 32 -- including seven rookies -- and another 35 listed on the developmental Future's Tour.
'I guess I give them a lot of confidence to come over and play in the U.S.,' Pak told The Associated Press in an e-mail interview. 'In the last four years, you see more than 20 players from Korea that play in the tour and, at the same time, they play so well. I'm kind of proud of it.'
Pak, whose latest win was her fifth major title and 23rd overall, says Korean women find it easier to cope with life on the tour because they already are adept at pressure management. She revived her career by training more than 12 hours a day and studying two martial arts -- muay thai kickboxing and taekwondo.
'The way we grow up is a little different. In our culture, there's always a lot of support from the family and, at the same time, always having a lot of pressure on ourselves,' Pak said.
In Korea's conservative society dominated by Confucian philosophy, women often live with their parents until they are married and study long hours to compete academically with their peers. Wie said the culture of hard work helps explain Koreans' success on the greens.
Korean players 'work their butts off, they work hard and they're very motivated and talented,' Wie said during a trip to South Korea last month when she made her first cut in a men's tournament at the Asian Tour's SK Telecom Open.
Jee Young Lee, who won her first title last October at the CJ Nine Bridges Classic in Jeju, South Korea, says she practiced up to seven hours a day while in high school.
Sociologist Shin Eui-hang said Korean women never would have experienced this level of success without what he called the country's 'all-in culture.'
'For many Korean parents, their children pick a career route and their parents bet everything they've got on that goal,' said Shin, a South Carolina professor who authored a 2004 paper entitled, 'Culture, Gender Role of Sports: The Case of the Korean Player on the LPGA Tour.'
'The other factor is the exam culture. What we would call 'exam hell.' Korean parents oversee their kids going through the university entrance exam, and this begins at elementary school. What I'm talking about is practice, practice, practice,' he said. 'That's why you see these kids are determined to practice their golf swing day after day.'
Despite Korean women's success, the country's men have failed to keep pace. The only male standout from South Korea is three-time PGA Tour winner K.J. Choi. This is partly attributed to the two-year disruption to men's lives for mandatory military service, but Shin said it also ironically has roots in the inferior status of Korean women.
'In a Korean family, parents still think that becoming a professional golfer is not a viable professional route. Sons should aim higher,' he said. 'But for Korean women, becoming a pro golfer is not that shabby, and even if they fail to make the LPGA tour, many are eligible to become golf training pros, which is a lucrative and respectable career in Korea.'
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.