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Han Not Long for Anonymity

WILMINGTON, Del. -- She sat at the front of the media room, looking for all the world like an accidental golfer who just happened to wander by. Her name is Hee-Wan Han, she is two years removed from her native Korea, and she is smack dab in the middle of a fight for the McDonalds LPGA Championship.
A slightly bewildered look creased her face, the white baseball cap looking much too large for her small visage. Hee-Wan Han has the look of a young girl who happened a little too close to a womens major championship. She speaks her native language in a barely audible tone to her interpreter, sometimes answering in two or three words of English, sometimes relying solely on Saint Kim or caddie Shaun Clews to answer the questions.
Only her golf swing gives her away. Out in the middle of the fairway, shes knocking down the pins and making the putts. She missed a hole-in-one Friday by five inches. Never before has the difference been so great between what a person looks like and what she plays like.
Han shot a 2-under 69 in the second round to go with her Thursday 67, giving her a two-day total of 6-under-par 136. She might look like a child, but she plays golf like at adult. You havent heard of her yet because she has yet to win. But she had three second-place finishes last year and has knocked on the door continually this year.
Han was persuaded to come to the United States after the success of fellow Korean Se Ri Pak, who won this event as a rookie five years ago. Han was the LPGAs Rookie of the Year two seasons ago and was in a playoff at the Sybase Big Apple Classic.
How big an impact has Pak had on the youth of Korea? Thats huge, said Han. Huge impact, reiterated her interpreter, Kim.
Is Pak idolized the same way that Tiger Woods is in America?
Yeah, said Han, not waiting this time for Kim. Its like that, yep.
However, Pak is less than a year older than Han at 25. Han began playing at age 8, when she was taught the game by her father. And she would have been a professional golfer regardless of Paks influence.
She made up her mind to be a professional golfer at the age of 13, said Kim, so I think she pretty much expects to be on the American tour.
Shes already been in the lead going into Saturday at Phoenix this year, so this position is not new to her. But too much attention is unfamiliar to this woman-child.
She doesnt want to be a superstar, said Kim. But she wants to play her own game, and she tries her best to satisfy herself with her game and ball-striking.
Related Links
  • Full-field scores from the McDonald's LPGA Championship
  • Full coverage of the McDonald's LPGA Championship