Emotions high as Jang, Chun controversy lingers

By Randall MellMarch 16, 2016, 2:02 am

PHOENIX – If Ha Na Jang wins the JTBC Founders Cup this week, she won’t be unveiling any celebratory moves.

Jang’s Beyonce victory dance after winning the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore 10 days ago created a backlash in South Korea that has inflamed a controversy that continues to linger between Jang and reigning U.S. Women’s Open champion In Gee Chun back in their homeland.

Jang wiped away tears Tuesday at the Founders Cup after explaining how she didn’t intend to offend anyone with the dance and that she is remorseful over circumstances that have pitted her against Chun in a Korean media firestorm.

“For now, Ha Na is keeping to the position that she doesn’t want to comment further,” said an LPGA spokesman helping Jang translate.

Upon returning to South Korea after winning the HSBC Women’s Champions, Jang learned her celebratory dance offended Chun supporters, who were upset over an incident before the tournament began, a mishap where Jang’s father lost control of a 15-pound travel bag that went crashing down an escalator at Singapore’s Changi airport. The bag hit Chun in the lower back, causing injuries that led Chun to withdraw from the HSBC Champions and this week’s Founders Cup.

The controversy worsened with Jang’s victory in Singapore moving her into the four-player South Korean Olympic team mix and bumping Chun out.

Jang said she only did the Beyonce dance to live up to a promise she made to Singapore media who asked before the event started if she had something special planned if she won. Jang said she made the promise unaware how serious the Chun incident had become.

Jang politely tried to address media questions in Phoenix Tuesday without violating a pledge she made to Korean media that she wasn’t going to comment further.

“She’s not ready to make a statement,” said Sean Pyun, the LPGA official acting as a translator for Jang and her manager, Pyungi Kim. “She’s trying to be sensitive to the Korean media, to In Gee and Ha Na’s father.”

Jang told Pyun that she didn’t think it would be fair to comment with Chun not here this week.

Jang did say the backlash over her celebration hurt her.

“Now every day crying in my room, last night, last week,” Jang said before enlisting a translator to help convey her concerns. “A lot happening in Korea, big issue.”

Jang made an apology to Chun when she met with media upon returning to South Korea last week. Korean media originally reported Jang’s father, Chang Ho, apologized immediately after the incident. Chun later issued a statement saying there were shortcomings in the apology but she wanted to calm the furor.

“Ha Na Jang and her father are two of the players and players’ fathers who have the most respect from a lot of people in golf, and who are loved by them,” Chun said in the statement translated from Korean to English. “Regardless of the shortcomings in delivering apologies, and consolations directly to me and my family, I still believe the excessive speculations and the provoked criticism from current issues should not result in their mental wound and stresses.

“I hope to meet them soon and would like to have an opportunity to share with them my thought on how my family and I were hurt. At the same time, I would like to show my sympathy and console their heart and soul sincerely if I could. Many fans of Ha Na Jang's must have felt greatly hurt and low. I would also like to express my sincere consolation wholeheartedly to them, and I would like to ask them to continue to support Ha Na Jang for her continued top performance at the tournaments to come. I will do my best to rebuild the relationship with her and her family in a very positive direction and meet the expectations from everyone who loves golf.”

Chun’s management team said an orthopedic specialist’s MRI and ultrasound tests revealed injuries to Chun’s lumbar muscles, sacroiliac joint and pelvis. Doctors told Chun she would need two weeks to recover. Chun’s team says she has been undergoing heat-acupuncture therapy and other treatment.

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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.