Free spirit Yin helps keep U.S. Solheim team loose

By Randall MellAugust 15, 2017, 8:27 pm

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa - U.S. Solheim Cup captain Juli Inkster loved the playful bravado.

Long before Angel Yin played her way onto the media’s radar as a Solheim Cup hopeful this summer, she was on Inkster’s radar.

The LPGA rookie wouldn’t let Inkster walk past her at a tour event without letting her know she was ready to play for her.

Every time she passed me, she would say, `I’m going to make your team.’ I loved that about her,” said Inkster, who made Yin one of her two captain’s picks. “She’s confident, but not cocky.”

Tour insiders have been waiting for this giant talent to make a mark as a pro on a big stage, and Des Moines Golf and Country Club looks like that stage.

Yin is a long-hitting Californian, the first-generation American daughter of Chinese immigrants, a raw but determined talent with fun-loving charm that is as big as her swing.

Yin is the only true LPGA rookie on the American team preparing to meet Europe in Iowa this week, the second-youngest American to play in the biennial international team event. She will be 18 years, 10 months and 15 days old when the competition begins on Friday. That’s four months older than Lexi Thompson was when she made her Solheim Cup debut four years ago.

“My team just loves her, loves her,” Inkster said.

They love the bold way Yin plays the game.

“She’s fearless,” American veteran Stacy Lewis said. “She has the length of Ariya Jutanugarn but hits it higher and straighter.”

There is something else they love, too. They love the quirky, carefree spirit Yin brings to the team room. She’s quickly fitting in as America’s version of Charley Hull, the teen who charmed and entertained the Euros with her artless ways as a rookie in Colorado four years ago. 


Solheim Cup: Articles, photos and videos

Team records: United States | Europe


Beth Allen isn’t on the American team, but she saw Yin’s charms before Yin joined the LPGA this year. They played the Ladies European Tour last year.

“I’m from California, and I could tell right away Angel was a California girl,” said Allen, the first American to win the LET’s Order of Merit. “It’s the way she talks, and that Californian free spirit. She marches to the beat of her own drum. She’s just a lot of fun.”

You can see it Yin’s social media posts, even in her Twitter handle. She’s @angelyinlol.

“The name Angel Yin was taken, and some friends who said I really needed to be on social media liked the idea of adding LOL on the end of my name,” Yin told GolfChannel.com “It grew on me.”

For those oblivious to all things social media, LOL is short for “laugh out loud.”

From Yin’s mischievous grin on her profile picture, to her pink-eared ski cap, you quickly see the LOL in Yin’s social media persona.

She posted a GIF of the Riverdale TV show character Jughead, ranting on how he’s different.

“I’m a weirdo. I don’t fit in. I don’t want to fit in,” Jughead rants.

“Exactly!” Yin commented in her retweet.

Yin once regaled her followers with how she suffered a bout of dehydration because she slept for 17 straight hours. And how she once got her hair caught in an elevator door.

On her 18th birthday last fall, Yin posted comically that it was something to mourn, because she was officially designated an adult, with the wonder of childhood behind her.

“Probably one of the saddest days of my life,” she wrote on Instagram. “No longer a kid anymore. From here on out, it’s just responsibility to discipline to being mature. Can’t believe this day came so fast, but on the bright side, I’m legal now and I can party almost everywhere in Europe.”

Germany’s Olivia Cowan and Iceland’s Olafia Kristinsdottir met Yin as fellow LET rookies last year.

“We call ourselves The Three Musketeers,” Cowan said. “We are besties, always together.”

With Yin entertaining the trio with her unique take on things.

“When Angel gets going, she doesn’t stop talking,” Cowan said. “She is very lively, the most fun person I know. We can talk about the stupidest things, and we can talk about it for hours.”

The funny thing about Yin is that she considers herself shy. At least, she can be in new environments. Making her start on the LPGA this year, she was cautious, socially.

“I’m just a rookie, and there are a lot of big shots on tour I’m afraid to talk to,” Yin said. “People might see me with friends and think, `She’s not shy at all,’ but in reality I’m a really shy person. It’s hard for me to come out of my shell sometimes, but once the wall’s knocked down . . .”

It’s @angelyinlol.

“I really don’t think she’s afraid of anything,” Kristinsdottir said.

Yin nearly made the American team via the U.S. Solheim Cup world rankings list. She tied for eighth at the Marathon Classic and tied for 11th at the Ricoh Women’s British Open in her last two starts. With two more birdies coming home at Kingsbarns, Yin wouldn’t have required a captain’s pick. She would have qualified with the effort.

It didn’t take LET pros long last year to see what LPGA pros are seeing this year.

Yin was second on the LET in driving distance last year, trailing only Joanna Klatten, who also led the LPGA in driving. She finished 11th on the LET Order of Merit.

Yin is seventh in the LPGA ranks in driving this season, averaging 272 yards per drive.

“The way she compresses the ball, it’s not like anyone else,” Allen said.

Yin joined the LET as a 17-year-old. She didn’t think it was right to petition the LPGA for a waiver of its rule requiring members be 18 years old, and while USC was offering her a scholarship, she believed she was ready to turn pro.

Yin’s swing coach, Bob Lasken, knew the LET and what it offered. His sister, now Kim McNary, played the LET before joining the LPGA. He offered it up as an option, and Angel’s mother was intrigued.

Michelle Yin has never played a hole of golf in her life, but she learned the game watching her daughter, listening to her coaches, watching every LPGA and PGA Tour event she could find on TV. She also read through Tiger Woods’ instructional book, “How I Play Golf.

When Angel joined the LET, Michelle picked up her bag as caddie.

“We couldn’t afford to pay a caddie,” Michelle said.

Michelle got Angel into the game almost by accident back in Arcadia, Calif.

When Angel was 6, one of Michelle’s friends approached them. The friend had a son who wanted to learn to play golf. The friend asked if Michelle would sign up Angel to join her boy in a month-long junior program at Arcadia Par 3 Golf Course. Angel didn’t have any clubs, but she borrowed a used club from the pro shop.

“My friend’s son didn’t like playing, and he quit,” Michelle said. “Angel didn’t want to quit. She loved it, and she wanted me to buy her some golf clubs.

“She told me, `Mom, don’t worry, you don’t have to come watch over me. You can just drop me off and pick me up. It will be OK.’”

So that’s what Michelle did.

But it wasn’t long until the coaches at Arcadia Par 3 were calling Michelle to tell her Angel was a promising talent, and she needed private lessons. It wasn’t long after that before a coach was calling to say Angel really ought to be competing in tournaments.

“The coach directed me to a web site, and I registered Angel for a tournament,” Michelle said. “Two years after Angel started in the game, she won the Callaway Junior Worlds in San Diego.”

Angel was 8 when she made that breakthrough.

That’s when Michelle said she started getting more involved in her daughter’s game.

“From the beginning, I just followed Angel’s lead, but she picked up everything so fast,” Michelle said. “I decided I needed to get serious and learn everything I could to support her.”

Michelle was a business woman in the import/export business back in China. She moved to the United States from her Beijing home 20 years ago. Angel was born a year later. Michelle became a U.S. citizen about 10 years ago, but Angel’s father remains in China.

“I wouldn’t be where I am now without my mother,” Angel said.

Yin has been a big deal in Southern California for a while now. At 13, she qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open at Blackwolf Run. At 14, she won a junior qualifier to get into the ANA Inspiration and made the cut. At 15, she Monday qualified to get into the LPGA’s Kia Classic, At 16, she won the AJGA’s Annika Invitational, finished runner up in the U.S. Girls’ Junior and played on the U.S. Junior Solheim Cup team.

Lasken first heard about Yin when she was 10.

That’s when Lasken’s sister, Kim, the LPGA pro, teed it up in a U.S. Women’s Open qualifier at Industry Hills. She was paired with Yin.

“Kim called me after saying, `Oh my God, this 10-year-old girl was outdriving me by 30 yards,’” Lasken said. “Angel was a legend at 10.”

Yin’s first private instructor was Greg Castleman, with Lasken taking over about six years ago.

“Angel has that attitude of a champion,” said Lasken, who teaches out of Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in Mission Viejo. “You always hear Angel saying `I can do this.’ You never hear her saying, `I can’t.’

“The bigger the stakes, the better she plays. It’s like she has this attitude, `Bring it on.’”

It’s why Inkster believed Yin was ready for this week’s big stage.

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Davies wins Senior LPGA Championship

By Associated PressOctober 17, 2018, 10:45 pm

FRENCH LICK, Ind. -- Laura Davies won the Senior LPGA Championship on Wednesday at chilly and windy French Lick Resort to sweep the two senior major events of the year.

Davies birdied the final hole for a 2-under 70 and a four-stroke victory over Helen Alfredsson and Silvia Cavalleri. The 55-year-old Englishwoman won the inaugural U.S. Senior Women's Open in July at Chicago Golf Club. In March in Phoenix, she tied for second behind Inbee Park in the LPGA's Founders Cup.

''I wish there were more of them to play,'' Davies said about the two senior majors. ''This was a real treat because I've never put three good rounds together on this course. With the wind today and the challenging layout, I think 2 under par was a really good score.''


Full-field scores from the Senior LPGA Championship


Davies led wire to wire, finishing at 8-under 208 on The Pete Dye Course. She birdied three of the four par 5s in the final round, making an 8-footer on No. 18.

Alfredsson also shot 70, and Cavalleri had a 71. Michele Redman was fourth at 1 under after a 73. Brandie Burton, two strokes behind Davies after a second-round 66, shot 77 to finish fifth at 1 over.

Juli Inkster followed an 80 with a 73 to tie for 12th at 6 over.

Davies earned $90,000 for her 86th worldwide professional victory. She won four regular majors.

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For Korean women, golf is a double-edged sword

By Randall MellOctober 17, 2018, 10:30 pm

There is always a story behind the tears.

For In Gee Chun, it’s a story about more than her victory Sunday at the KEB Hana Bank Championship.

It’s about the other side of the Korean passion that runs so deep in women’s golf and that makes female players feel like rock stars.

It’s about the unrelenting pressure that comes with all that popularity.

Chun explained where her tears came from after her victory. She opened up about the emotional struggle she has faced trying to live up to the soaring expectations that come with being a young Korean superstar.

Her coach, Won Park, told GolfChannel.com on Wednesday that there were times over the last year that Chun wanted to “run and hide from golf.” The pressure on her to end a two-year victory drought was mounting in distressing fashion.

Chun, 24, burst onto the world stage when she was 20, winning the U.S. Women’s Open before she was even an LPGA member. When she won the Evian Championship two years later, she joined Korean icon Se Ri Pak as the only players to win major championships as their first two LPGA titles.

Following up on those victories was challenging, with Chun feeling as if nothing short of winning was good enough to satisfy Korean expectations.

After the victory at Evian, Chun recorded six second-place finishes, runner-up finishes that felt like failures with questions growing back home over why she wasn’t closing out.

“There were comments that were quite vicious, that were very hard to take as a person and as a woman,” Chun said. “I really wanted to rise above that and not care about those comments, but I have to say, some of them lingered in my mind, and they really pierced my heart.”

Chun struggled going from the hottest star in South Korea to feeling like a disappointment. She slipped from No. 3 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings to No. 27 going into last week’s KEB Hana Bank Championship. Maybe more significantly, she slipped from being the highest ranked Korean in the world to where she wasn’t even among the top 10 Koreans anymore.

“Some fans and the Korean golf media were hard on her, mostly on social media,” Park wrote GolfChannel.com in an email. “It caused her to start struggling with huge depression and socio phobia. She often wished to run away from golf and hide herself where there was no golf at all.”


Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos


Socio phobia includes the fear of being scrutinized or judged by others, according to the Mayo Clinic’s definition of conditions.

Though critics of South Korea’s dominance have complained about the machine-like nature of some those country’s stars, we’ve seen quite a bit of emotion from South Koreans on big stages this year.

After Sung Hyun Park won the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in July, the world No. 1 with the steely stare uncharacteristically broke into tears.

“This is the first time feeling this kind of emotion,” Park said back then. “It’s been a really tough year for me.”

It was the second of her three victories this season, a year in which she also has missed seven cuts.

“A lot of pressure builds up,” said David Jones, her caddie. “That’s just what happens when you’re that good, and you’re Korean.”

While American players admire the massive popularity Koreans enjoy in their homeland, they see what comes with it.

“Koreans really do elevate their women players, but at the same time, they put a ton of pressure on them,” American Cristie Kerr said. “There’s pressure on them to not only be good, but to be attractive, and to do the right things culturally.”

So Yeon Ryu felt the pressure to perform build as high as she has ever felt with Koreans trying to qualify for the Olympics two years ago. The competition to make the four-woman team was intense, with so many strong Koreans in the running.

“This just makes me crazy,” Ryu said back then. “The biggest thing is the Korean media. If someone is going to make the Olympics, they're a great player. But if somebody cannot make it, they're a really bad player.”

Ryu didn’t make that team, but she went on to share LPGA Rolex Player of the Year honors with Sung Hyun Park last year. She also won her second major championship and ascended to world No. 1.

LPGA Hall of Famer Inbee Park was under fire going to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. She was coming back from injury and there was growing criticism of her. She was hearing clamor to give up her spot to a healthy player, but she went on to win the gold medal.

“I almost cried on air,” said Na Yeon Choi, a nine-time LPGA winner who was doing analysis for Korean TV. “Inbee had so much pressure on her.”

After the Koreans won the UL International Crown two weeks ago, there was as much relief as joy in their ranks. Though viewed as the dominant force in women’s golf, they watched the Spaniards crowned as the “best golfing nation” in the inaugural matches in 2014 and then watched the Americans gain the honor in 2016. There was pressure on the Koreans to win the crown at home.

“There were some top Koreans who didn’t want to play, because there was going to be so much pressure,” Kerr said.

Chun got the nod to join the team this year after Inbee Park announced she was stepping aside, to allow another Korean a chance to represent their country. Chun was the third alternate, with Sei Young Kim and Jin Young Ko saying they were passing to honor previous KLPGA commitments.

Chun went on to become the star of the UL International Crown. She was undefeated, the only player to go 4-0 in the matches.

“In Gee made up her mind to devote herself to the team and played with an extremely high level of passion and focus,” Won Park wrote in an email interview. “She took the International Crown as a war in her heart. She did not play, but she `fought’ against the course, not against the opposing team . . . During all four winning matches, she gradually found her burning passion deep in her heart and wanted to carry it to the LPGA KEB Hana Bank.”

Park explained he has been working with Chun to change her focus, to get her to play for herself, instead of all the outside forces she was feeling pressure to please.

“She was too depressed to listen for a year and a half,” Park wrote.

So that’s where all Chun’s tears came from after she won the KEB Hana Bank.

“All the difficult struggles that I have gone through the past years went before me, and all the faces of the people who kept on believing in me went by, and so I teared up,” Chun said.

Park said Chun’s focus remains a work in progress.

“Although it will take some more time to fully recover from her mental struggle, she at least got her wisdom and confidence back and belief in her own game,” Park wrote. “This is never going to be easy for a 24-year-old young girl, but I believe she will continue to fight through.”

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Asia offers chance for players to get early jump on season

By Rex HoggardOctober 17, 2018, 6:00 pm

When the field at this week’s CJ Cup tees off for Round 1 just past dinner time on the East Coast Wednesday most golf fans will still be digesting the dramatic finish to the 2017-18 season, which wrapped up exactly 24 days ago, or reliving a Ryder Cup that didn’t go well for the visiting team.

Put another way, the third event of the new season will slip by largely unnoticed, the victim of a crowded sports calendar and probably a dollop of burnout.

What’ll be lost in this three-event swing through Asia that began last week in Kuala Lumpur at the CIMB Classic is how important these events have become to Tour players, whether they count themselves among the star class or those just trying to keep their jobs.

The Asian swing began in 2009 with the addition of the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai, although it would be a few years before the event earned full status on Tour, and expanded in 2010 with the addition of the CIMB Classic. This week’s stop in South Korea was added last season and as the circuit transitions to a condensed schedule and earlier finish next year there are persistent rumors that the Tour plans to expand even more in the Far East with sources saying an event in Japan would be a likely landing spot.

Although these events resonate little in the United States because of the time zone hurdles, for players, the Asian swing has become a key part of the schedule.

Consider that seven of the top 10 performers last year in Asia advanced to the Tour Championship and that success wasn’t mutually exclusive to how these players started their season in Asia.

For players looking to get a jump on the new season, the three Asian stops are low-hanging fruit, with all three featuring limited fields and no cut where players are guaranteed four rounds and FedExCup points.

For a player like Pat Perez, his performances last October virtually made his season, with the veteran winning the CIMB Classic and finishing tied for fifth place at the CJ Cup. All total, Perez, who played all three Asian events last year, earned 627 FedExCup points - more than half (53 percent) of his regular-season total.

Keegan Bradley and Cameron Smith also made the most of the tournaments in Asia, earning 34 and 36 percent, respectively, of their regular-season points in the Far East. On average, the top 10 performers in Asia last year earned 26 percent of their regular-season points in what was essentially a fraction of their total starts.

“It's just a place that I've obviously played well,” Justin Thomas, a three-time winner in Asia, said last week in Kuala Lumpur. “I'm comfortable. I think being a little bit of a longer hitter you have an advantage, but I mean, the fact of the matter is that I've just played well the years I played here.”

Perhaps the biggest winner in Asia last season was Justin Rose, who began a torrid run with his victory at the WGC-HSBC Champions, and earned 28 percent of his regular-season points (550) in the Far East on his way to winning the FedExCup by just 41 points.

But it’s not just the stars who have made the most of the potential pot of Asian gold.

Lucas Glover finished tied for seventh at the CIMB Classic, 15th at the CJ Cup and 50th in China in 2017 to earn 145 of his 324 regular-season points (45 percent). Although that total was well off the pace to earn Glover a spot in the postseason and a full Tour card, it was enough to secure him conditional status in 2018-19.

Similarly, Camilo Villegas tied for 17th in Kuala Lumpur and 36th in South Korea to earn 67 of his 90 points, the difference between finishing 193rd on the regular-season point list and 227th. While it may seem like a trivial amount to the average fan, it allowed Villegas to qualify for the Web.com Tour Finals and a chance to re-earn his Tour card.

With this increasingly nuanced importance have come better fields in Asia (which were largely overlooked the first few years), with six of the top 30 players in the Official World Golf Ranking making the trip last week to Malaysia and this week’s tee sheet in South Korea featuring two of the top 5 in world - No. 3 Brooks Koepka and No. 4 Thomas.

“I finished 11th here last year and 11th in China the next week. If I can try and improve on that, get myself in contention and possibly win, it sets up the whole year. That's why I've come back to play,” Jason Day said this week of his decision to play the Asian swing.

For many golf fans in the United States, the next few weeks will be a far-flung distraction until the Tour arrives on the West Coast early next year, but for the players who are increasingly starting to make the trip east, it’s a crucial opportunity to get a jump on the season.

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Watch: Woods uses computer code to make robotic putt

By Jason CrookOctober 17, 2018, 3:10 pm

Robots have been plotting their takeover of the golf world for some time.

First it was talking trash to Rory McIlroy, then it was making a hole-in-one at TPC Scottsdale's famous 16th hole ... and now they're making putts for Tiger Woods.

Woods tweeted out a video on Tuesday draining a putt without ever touching the ball:

The 42-year-old teamed up with a computer program to make the putt, and provided onlookers with a vintage Tiger celebration, because computers can't do that ... yet.