S.H. Park hopes to earn LPGA membership with win


Who needs Q-School?

While another wave of talented young South Korean women came pouring through LPGA Q-School last year, they aren’t all taking that route to the American-based tour. Nobody has been more adept taking the quick route to the LPGA than young South Korean stars.

With her course-record 10-under-par 62 Thursday at the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship in South Korea, Sung Hyun Park moved into position to try to become the fourth Korean LPGA Tour player in a little more than a year to earn membership on the American-based tour with an LPGA victory. Park leads the KEB Hana Bank by four shots through the first round.

Non-members who win LPGA events can claim tour membership immediately upon winning. By doing so, they become members through the remainder of the current season and through the following season. Or, they can defer one-year membership to the start of the following season.

This summer, KLPGA star In Gee Chun won the U.S. Women’s Open. She is deferring membership to the start of next year. KLPGA star Hyo Joo Kim won the Evian Championship in September of last year and Q Baek followed up a month later winning the KEB Hana Bank. They both deferred membership to the start of this year.

Park, 22, is yet another in a long line of young South Korean stars eager to prove themselves in the game’s biggest events. She shot her 62 Thursday playing alongside Michelle Wie and Lexi Thompson. The Associated Press noted that Park was regularly driving the ball 10 to 15 yards past the long-hitting Wie and Thompson.

“Amazing putter and great ball-striker, and she hits it long,” Thompson said.

Park has won three KLPGA titles this season. She won the Se Ri Pak Invitational two weeks ago and the Korea Women’s Open in June.

“Michelle and Lexi are taller and bigger than I am, and they are much more powerful than I am,” Park said. “But I notice that maybe my swing speed is a bit faster than them, and that might contribute to me being able to hit the ball as far as I do.”