Rookie Kang In Command


Futures TourSYRACUSE, N.Y. - It only took 36 holes for recently turned professional Jimin Kang of Seoul, Korea, to earn a spot in the final pairing for the first time in her professional career. At the completion of the second round of the M&T Bank Loretto FUTURES Golf Classic, Kang, who is making her FUTURES Tour debut, fired a six-under-par 65 on the 6,094 par 71 The Links at Erie Village in Syracuse, N.Y. Her two-day total of 134 (-8) has given her a three-shot lead over four other players.
The first round was suspended due to darkness yesterday and 18 players, including Kang, returned this morning at 7:30 A.M. to complete two more holes. Kang, who finished at even-par before play was suspended Friday night, came back and birdied 17 and 18. She finished at 69 (-2), one shot off the lead.
However, a six-and-a-half hour break didnt stop Kang from maintaining her hot streak. Playing in the second to last group, she immediately jumped to 6-under-par for the tournament with birdies on one, two, three, and five. She two-putted for birdie from 24 feet on the par-5 466-yard seventh hole and turned at 7-under-par, two-shots ahead of her nearest competitor.
'I was so nervous yesterday during the first round,' stated the 22-year-old Kang, the winner of the 2002 PAC-10 Conference Championship. 'It was my first real tournament as a professional and Im not used to traveling on my own. But, once I started making birdies, I knew I would be okay. Today, my putting was unbelievable. I was having so much fun with my playing partners and the gallery.'
Kang double-bogeyed 11 but answered with birdies on 12, 13, and she drained a 20-foot birdie putt on 18 to extend her lead by three shots.
Much like many other former collegiate standouts on the FUTURES Tour, Kang parted from Arizona State University to enter the professional ranks. She made her professional debut at the 57th U.S. Womens Open Championship and shot rounds of 79 ' 75 = 154. Kang missed the 36-hole cut.
'I put too much pressure on myself during the Open and I didnt play well,' remarked Kang after her round today. 'I was too serious and was not having fun. It was a great experience and taught me what to expect as a professional.'
Lisa Hall of Stoke-on-Trent, England, also fired a six-under-par 65 for a 137 (-5) total. Her bogey-free round was made up of birdies on one, two, six, eight, 13, and 14. Hall, who was tied for 26th after the first round, moved into second spot with Lorena Ochoa of Guadalajara, Mexico, Isabelle Beisiegel of Norman, Okla., and Natalie Wong of Montebello, Calif.
Hall, the 1997 LPGA Rookie of the Year, stated, 'I played steady and really enjoyed it out there. This is the best round Ive played in a long time. I was hitting my irons close, giving me a lot of birdie chances. Luckily, I rolled in six of them.'