Tag Archives: Golf

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3 Reasons Why M.J. Hur’s Win At The Yokohama LPGA Classic Is Inspiring

by STEVE HAN

South Korea’s Mi Jung Hur toppled Stacy Lewis to win the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic in Pratville, Ala. on Sunday, marking her first victory on the tour in five years since 2009.

The 24-year-old broke the tournament record after finishing with a 6-under 66. She beat Lewis, who’s ranked No. 1 in the world, by four strokes.

But there are stories behind Hur’s dramatic win that goes beyond the statistics and competition. Here are five reasons that makes her triumph in Pratville from this past weekend more inspiring.

Hur’s win at the Yokohama LPGA Classic is a true underdog story. With the win, Hur went from the verge of being a forgotten figure to becoming relevant again. The five-year dry spell saw her drop to 94th in the rankings. She was even in danger of losing her LPGA Tour card after finishing outside of the top 10 for 10 months until this past August. But Hur, who began making revisions in her swing and polished her putting three years ago, saw her efforts paying dividends (she is averaging the least number of puts per round this season in the LPGA) in recent weeks as she finished ninth at the Portland Classic last month, followed by the third-place finish at the Evian, where her impressive performance was overshadowed by the 19-year-old up-and-comer Hyo-Joo Kim.

It was a truly heartwarming father-daughter story. Trying desperately to help his daughter end years of slump, Kwan Mu Hur left his business behind to caddie for his daughter recently. After winning the Yokohama LPGA Classic, Hur said that she drew strength from her father, her first swing coach and her caddie in Pratville, as she went on to win the tournament. The petite man, who appears to be far shorter than his 5-foot-7 daughter, was visibly struggling at times to keep up with Hur while carrying her heavy golf clubs. “My father carried my bag all week,” Hur said on Sunday. “He was my first swing coach. His presence was a huge help for me.”

Hur’s father also told Golf.com, “It’s definitely an exciting week for me.”

In crunch time, Hur drew from past experiences of falling short and withstood the pressure of protecting the lead. Lewis, the No. 1 player in the world, was within one shot at one point, but Hur kept her composure. Her swing didn’t waver and she kept calm until the final putt. She admitted that she was in tears before her second shot on the final hole and when she connected her final putt, her head bowed and tears flowed.

“I just played my own game and after nine holes I made a few birdies on the back nine,” Hur told Golfchannel.com. “The last two holes, I really enjoyed the golf.”

Photo via ESPN Golf

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One-time Golf Rising Star Anthony Kim May Lose Millions If He Returns to the PGA Tour

by JULIE HA

It’s been a lingering question on many golf fans’ minds for years: What ever happened to Anthony Kim?

Sports Illustrated writer Alan Shipnuck, in a recent story for Golf.com, may just have the answer.

But, first, a little history for those who don’t remember Kim, now 29, who hasn’t been seen or heard from on the PGA since 2012.

The one-time rising golf superstar, whom many considered the “next Tiger Woods,” got off to a strong start in his professional career, after earning his PGA Tour card in 2007 and going on to four top-10 finishes during that rookie season. By the following year, the Korean American would win two PGA Tour tournaments, including the Wachovia Championship where he defeated former British Open champion Ben Curtis—and set a tournament record with the lowest score in history, at 16-under par 272 total.

His explosive performance at the Ryder Cup in September of 2008 — Paul Azinger admiringly called his fiercely competitive spirit “infectious” — was considered critical to the U.S.’ victory. The PGA thought it had a star in the making. Not only did Kim seem to ooze the talent — he set a record for the most birdies in a round at the 2009 Master Tournament in Augusta, Ga., with 11 — but he also carried an unabashed swagger about him that the media loved to write about. Some golf commentators said Kim was the type of character that may just add some spice to the sport, in much the same way Tiger Woods did.

Of course, the flip side was that the same commentators also speculated that Kim’s legendary partying off the course could derail his young career. As those rumors were swirling, Kim also began suffering injury after injury — first in 2010 to this left thumb, then his left wrist and later, in 2012, his Achilles tendon in his left leg. Surgery to treat the tendon in the summer of 2012 was said to force his absence from play for up to a year. But after a year, still no Anthony Kim, and earlier this spring, the Golf Channel reported he no longer even played recreational golf. Meanwhile, his agency IMG’s official line was that Kim was injured, but was still hoping to return one day.

And the golf world continued to wonder and speculate: Where is Anthony Kim? And why isn’t he playing golf — at all?

Then, last Friday, Shipnuck’s Golf.com story finally seemed to provide an explanation for why a golfer of this much promise and raw talent would suddenly disappear from the scene. Shipnuck first called IMG’s official line into question, citing an unidentified close friend of Kim’s in Dallas, who said “AK’s not injured. ”

“His swing looks good, the strike sounds solid, his ball flight is good,” the friend told Shipnuck.

The Sports Illustrated writer goes on to explain that what may be standing in the way of Kim ever picking up a golf club competitively again is a hefty insurance policy against career-ending injury that’s worth close to $20 million, tax-free. Shipnuck, in an interview with Boston’s NPR news station WBUR, explained that many golfers have such private policies because, unlike in other sports, there is no long-term guaranteed contract for X amount of dollars.

“You know, in golf, you have to kill what you eat,” Shipnuck told NPR. “Kim had the foresight or the good advice to take out a big one. You know, I’m pretty sure the number’s $18 million, tax free. It sets up this dilemma because if he comes back and plays on the PGA Tour, the policy is voided. Does he take the money and retire in his 20s and then spend the rest of his life in regret of what might have been? Or does he come back and try to be the player he was, fail miserably and leave all that money on the table? On the other hand, if he can come back and play at the level that he did, he can make $18 million in a few years.”

The sports writer said he believes Kim may have a “complicated relationship” with golf, in part, because of great pressure his immigrant father reportedly put on him. When asked if Kim will ever return to the Tour, Shipnuck answered that he’d personally love to see him do so. “It would be a huge story,” he told NPR. “And the back story, you know: ‘This guy gave up $18 million to chase the dream.’ I think sports fans would respond to that.”

But as dramatic a narrative as that sounds, only one person can write the next chapter of the Anthony Kim story.

Featured photo via Getty

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Michelle Wie Wins the Rolex Annika Major Award

by REERA YOO

Although Wie withdrew from the first round of the Evian Championship due to an injury, she still took home a new trophy on Sunday, according to Golf Week.

Wie won the inaugural Rolex Annika Major award, which honors the best overall major-championship player of the season. To be eligible award, a player must win at least one of the five majors.

Despite missing the cut at the Ricoh Women’s British Open and skipping the Wegmans LPGA Championship due to a stress fracture in her right finger, Wie topped the list with 84 points, beating Inbee Park by eight points.

“That was one of the biggest goals that I had this year,” Wie said in an interview after winning the inaugural award. “I really wanted to win it. I tried really hard at tall the major. Unfortunately only played a couple, but I worked really hard to get this award.”

Wie said she plans to undergo an MRI on her injured finger upon returning to the U.S. and hopes to return to play at the Reignwood LPGA Class Oc.t 2-5, the first of six stops on the tour’s Asian Swing.

 

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South Korea’s Kim Hyo-joo Wins Evian Championship

by REERA YOO

In a dramatic finale, 19-year-old Korean golfer Kim Hyo-joo won her first major tournament at the Evian Championship in France on Sunday.

“I feel very happy, like a bird,” Kim told The Associated Press through a translator. “I want to fly in the sky.”

Kim was one shot behind seven-time major winner Karrie Webb, 39, on the final hole but turned the tables when she drained a 12-foot birdie putt. Webb, on the other hand, narrowly missed her 12-foot par and was edged out by the South Korean teen, the AP reported.

“I don’t know what hit me, probably a rush of adrenaline, and it was a poor putt knowing I had to make it,” said Webb.

Kim made history on Thursday by becoming the first player to shoot a 10-under-par 61, the lowest score ever in a major tournament for both men and women. However, she slipped back with bogeys on the 14th and 16th while Webb birdied the 14th and 15th. It was sudden death until the final hole, and Kim won the championship just by one shot.

According to the AP, her caddie, Gordon Rowan, said Kim didn’t even know she had won after the final putt.

“I said ‘You’ve won.’ She said ‘No, no, I haven’t,’ which was quite sweet,” Rowan said .

Kim finished on 11-under 273 overall, becoming the third youngest major winner at 19 years, 2 months. The win marks Kim’s first on the U.S. pro tour and moves her from No. 20 to No. 10 in the world golf rankings.

Three other South Koreans made it to the top five at the Evian with Jang Ha Na and Hur Mi Jung tied for third and Choi Na-yeon in fifth place.

Photo courtesy of Laurent Cipriani/AP Photo.

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19-Year-Old Shoots Lowest Ever Major Round, Still Contending At The Evian

South Korean teen golfer Hyo Joo Kim made the history books Thursday when she became the first ever player to shoot lowest in a major tournament for both men and women at 10-under 61 in the first round of the Evian Championship in France.

Only two women shot 62 in a major tournament–Minea Blomqvist of Finland at the 2004 British Open and Mexico’s Lorena Ochoa at the 2006 Kraft Nabisco Championship. For men, 26 different players have shot a record low 63. Jason Dufner is the most recent to hit that figure at the U.S. PGA Championship last year as he went on to win the tournament.

“I like a hard course,” Kim said after Thursday’s first round, according to ESPN. “I felt very comfortable today. I made a chance [for] a birdie on every [hole]. I missed some [but] it didn’t matter.”

Kim, just 19, is relatively a less heralded golfer from South Korea, which has produced some of the LPGA’s biggest talents, including the World Golf Hall of Famer Se Ri Pak and Inbee Park, last year’s LPGA Player of the Year.

“She’s not a massive hitter but has a very decent length, and keeps up with the girls,” said Gordon Rowan, Kim’s caddie. “Her accuracy into the greens means that she’s never far away. She also has a very good temperament, and even on days when she’s fighting and putts don’t fall, she keeps going.”

At the halfway stage of the Evian, Kim is chasing Brittany Lincicome by one-shot after Friday.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

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Michelle Wie’s Cool Time-Lapse Videos of Herself Painting

by REERA YOO

Michelle Wie may be laying off the golf course lately due to nursing an injury, but the LPGA golfer has been keeping herself busy with another passion — painting.  According to The Loop, the U.S. Women’s Open champion considers painting as a release for her and prefers to paint in watercolor.

Yesterday and on Tuesday, Wie showcased her beautiful painting skills using her brand new GoPro camera.  In the time-lapse videos, she paints a crowned skull with the word “dope” in its mouth and another skull with rainbow hair on a texted background. Turns out Wie is not only a great golfer and painter but also a great video editor.

Photo via Golf-web France

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So Yeon Ryu Wins Canadian Women’s Open, SKoreans Finish 1-2-3

by JAMES S. KIM

Oh, the sweet smell of victory.

“I smell like champagne right now, but I’m still so happy,” said a beaming So Yeon Ryu, who received the celebratory dousing after clinching the win at the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open on Sunday.

It’s been two years since the 24-year-old pro from South Korea won a tournament, but she did so handily, finishing at 23 under to break the Canadian Women’s Open 72-hole record for scoring in relation to par by five shots, according to the Golf Channel. Though Ryu said she was a little disappointed that she fell short of Annika Sorenstam’s LPGA Tour record of 27 under, she still savored the long-awaited victory.

“I’ve been waiting so long for the champagne,” she said. “I was ready to get champagne. I put champagne on Inbee [Park] maybe more than five times. Finally, she gave it to me.”

Ryu celebrated with her fellow Korean competitors, Na Yeon Choi, who finished at 21-under, and Park, who finished at 18-under—as they respectively placed 1-2-3 in the tournament. The trio of champions also happen to be close friends; Ryu and Choi will be Park’s bride’s maids at the latter’s wedding in October, the Associated Press reported.

That friendship did not stop the three from trying to outplay each other, however. On the back nine Sunday, Choi nipped away at Ryu’s five-shot lead, cutting it down to one of a birdie and a Ryu bogey. After that, though, Ryu steadied herself through the rest of the holes to claim her third LPGA title.

“Na Yeon almost chased me down, so I was pretty nervous at that moment,” Ryu told the Golf Channel. “The really good thing is I did trust myself. I was focused on my game.”

South Koreans have now won the last three LPGA tournaments after a slow start to the season, according to the Golf Channel. Inbee Park had the only South Korean LGPA title of 2014 coming into August. Mirim Lee won the Meijer LPGA classic on Aug. 10, and Park followed up with a win at the Wegmans LPGA Championship.

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Photos via Golf Canada/Bernard Brault

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Michelle Wie Among Featured Golfers on Upper Deck’s Exclusive Trading Cards

by JAMES S. KIM

There’s just something about sports memorabilia that tugs at our heart strings and wallets. Memorabilia producer Upper Deck has some of the best to offer, and last month, it debuted a new line of exclusive golf trading cards, with U.S. Open champion Michelle Wie among the elite golfers featured.

The 2014 Exquisite Golf Collection trading cards come in packs of six; five of them are autographed by a Tour pro. All are numbered to prove their authenticity. Each card also includes a swatch of game-worn shirts from the respective golfer. That’s right: you can own a piece of Michelle Wie’s wardrobe!

Of course, such exclusivity comes at a price. Each pack of cards averages a bit over $600.

The set also has a huge selection of Tiger Woods autograph cards, along with valuable rookie swatch cards for golf stars Graeme McDowell and Wood’s niece, Cheyenne Woods.

There are also a number of Legendary Signature and Signature Masterpiece cards that include both past and present players, from Jack Nicklaus to Arnold Palmer, and a few cards include multiple golfers and autographs. Avid golfer Michael Jordan even has his own autographed cards in the collection somewhere.

Upper Deck Rory McIlroy

Images via Golf Digest