South Korean-born Inbee Park won the U.S. Womens Open in June. And South Korean-born In-Kyung Kim won her first LPGA event Sunday at the Longs Drug Challenge.
Kims victory did not come as a surprise to anybody who noticed that she finished in the top 10 in each of the last two womens majors this year. Some may even recall that Kim defeated Park, 5 and 4, in the finals of the U.S. Girls Junior in 2005.
But the performances that put the most smiles on the bosses back at LPGA headquarters were the ones turned in by the 20-year-old Kim in the press room and at the trophy presentation over the weekend.
Remember, Kim was the first Korean to win an LPGA event since the storm of controversy accompanied the organizations announcement that it was going to mandate more English language proficiency from its foreign-born players.
At her Longs news conference Saturday, Kim made it through without an interpreter and referred to herself self-deprecatingly but endearingly as a little punk kid. Very American.
The word she probably was looking for was underdog. But all the present knew what she was trying to say.
Then on Sunday she revealed that she had been taking English classes two days a week at the University of South Carolina but struggled in other parts of the country because the South Carolina accent was so different.
Finally, with the sponsors beaming in the background at the presentation of the winners check, she blushed and said, This is like my English class.
If they had been handing out grades Sunday, the consensus is that In-Kyung Kim would have received an A on the course and an A off the course as well. Rosetta Stone language courses, she said, have also helped.
Kim came to the United States when she was 17 and has tried to immerse herself in American culture. But she hasnt forgotten where she came from, a fact that was evident when she acknowledged her mothers presence in the Sunday gallery.
She believes in me more than I believe in myself, thats why I am here today, said Kim, who now ranks No. 22 in the world, one spot ahead of Morgan Pressel.
SHUTTING IT DOWN
If Pressel is disappointed that she hasnt won in 2008 (no top 10s since June), think how Brittany Lincicome feels.
The long-hitting Lincicome, who plowed through the field at the 2006 HSBC World Match Play and played on the victorious 2007 U.S. Solheim Cup team, has dropped all the way to 90th on the money list and No. 49 in the world rankings.
According to her agent, Jeff Chilcoat, Lincicome will shut it down after this weeks Kapalua LPGA Classic and not return to competitive golf until 2009.
Lincicomes problems began when she and her teacher, Tampa-based Matt Mitchell, tried to make swing changes between the 2007 and 2008 seasons. By late spring it became apparent the changes werent working and the two have spent much of the rest of the year trying to get Lincicome back to where she was in 2007 when she finished 13th on the money list with $871,384 in earnings.
Lincicome has made just $114,963 this year and ranks 160th in driving accuracy, a stat that discounts her No. 2 ranking in driving distance. In 20 events this year the 23-year-old has posted just one top 10. Lincicome also made multiple caddie switches this year before finally settling on veteran looper Tara Bateman.
Certainly theres been frustration, Chilcoat said. But she has handled it very well, way better than you would expect a young 23-year-old to handle this.
Last week GolfChannel.com reported that the Wachovia Championship was waiting to find out its new name while acquisition suitors Citigroup and Wells Fargo fought over who was going to take over the tournaments title sponsor.
The San Francisco-based Wells Fargo won. And there is every indication that the new owner will continue to sponsor the event through the end of its contractual commitment to the PGA Tour which expires after the 2014 tournament.
The Wachovia Championship did a spectacular job branding its event as a top tier championship in the five years it was played at Quail Hollow which has become one of the players favorite courses on Tour. And there is hope in the Charlotte, N.C., community that Wells Fargo will recognize that. But there is no guarantee.
We didnt control the name, said Quail Hollow club president Johnny Harris. In retrospect, maybe we should have done that. Harris said he hasnt given up on the concept of the new name having Quail Hollow in the title.
Meanwhile, Harris emphasized that the uncertain job futures of thousands of Wachovia employees located in the Charlotte area are more important right now than the name of a golf tournament.
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt