Sung Hyun Park moved into position to try to become the fourth Korean LPGA Tour player to claim membership on the American-based LPGA tour with a victory in a little more than a year, but she said Saturday she isn’t sure she’s ready to play the American tour.
Park, who is playing her first LPGA event, opened the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship with a course record 10-under-par 62 to take the first-round lead at the Sky 72 Ocean Course in Incheon, South Korea. After falling back in the second round, she moved into a tie for the lead Saturday with a 67. She’s atop the leaderboard with Lydia Ko.
If Park wins Sunday, she could claim LPGA membership for the rest of this year and through next season. Or, she could defer membership to next year for 2016 only. But Park says she’s not sure if either option is right for her.
“I don't think I'm ready, maybe because I haven't really thought about it,” Park said through a translator. “Never really entered my mind. So I haven't really given it a deep consideration.”
Park, 22, says she had a conversation with her mother about it after taking the lead on Thursday. Park has won three KLPGA events this year.
“I think that maybe if I were to join the LPGA Tour now, I would find it difficult to adapt to a new environment, and I still have a language barrier to work on,” Park said. “So I think I need more exposure and experience to feel ready.
“Last year, I thought maybe three years later I'll be ready, and so for now, next year, I'm planning on focusing on the KLPGA Tour, and then maybe the year after that. But nothing's been decided or set.”
KLPGA players Hyo Joo Kim (Evian), Q Baek (KEB Hana Bank) and In Gee Chun (U.S. Women’s Open) have won LPGA events and claimed LPGA membership over the last 13 months. Chun deferred membership to 2016 after winning in July.