South Korean Players Storm LPGA Tour
'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.
Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational
Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.
The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.
Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs
JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.
Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.
The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.
Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump
Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.
Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.
None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.
Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.
An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.
In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.
Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.
Playing with the pros
Tiger, DJ and Faxon
President at the Presidents Cup
Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham
Cart on the green
Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open
Trump golf properties
Reportedly fake TIME covers
Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story
Pros comment on the president
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates. And click here for the full collection of articles.
No. 1: Dec. 18