Tag Archives: Golf

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Bae Sang-moon to Join South Korean Military After Losing Court Battle

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo
reera@iamkoream.com

Two-time PGA tour winner Bae Sang-moon said on Wednesday that he will be returning to South Korea to complete his military service after losing a legal battle to defer his conscription.

The 29-year-old golfer, who was granted U.S. residency in 2013, was charged in February with violating South Korea’s Military Service Act after he failed to secure an extension his overseas travel permit at the end of last year, according to Reuters.

Since the two Koreas remain technically at war with each other after the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in an armistice, all South Korean men between 18 and 35 are required to serve two years in the military.

The Military Manpower Administration (MMA) refused Bae’s request to extend his visa last December, claiming that he had spent too much time in South Korea to be considered an overseas resident, and filed an administrative suit on Jan. 16. Bae was allowed to stay in the States while the lawsuit was pending.

The Korean golfer had informed the Daegu District Court that he would like to compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro—where if he wins a medal, he could earn an exemption from conscription. However, the court sided with a local branch of the MMA on Wednesday, ruling that Bae’s refusal to sign up with the military “runs counter to the principle of fairness” with other conscripts.

While Bae reiterated that he only planned to delay his military service, not evade it, he said he will “humbly accept” the court’s ruling and return to South Korea as soon as possible to complete his mandatory military service.

“I felt this was a critical time for me as a young athlete to continue to compete on the U.S. golf tour,” Bae told Yonhap News Agency. “And I’d been doing the best I could to extend my stay, which was the legal and reasonable way. But the court’s ruling today reminded me of the fact I should put my duty as a South Korean citizen ahead of my golfing career.”

Last October, Bae won his second PGA Tour title at the Frys.com Open, which secured him an exemption through the 2016-17 season. According to the a statement from the PGA Tour, Bae will be allowed to retain his exempt status upon returning from the military.

Ranking No. 107 in the world, Bae is the second highest-ranked Korean golfer behind An Byeong-hun (No. 57), according to the Golf Channel.

See Also

 

Bae Wins PGA Tour Opener at Silverado

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Featured image via Bae Sang-moon/Facebook and PGA Tour

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Chun In-gee Wins U.S. Women’s Open

by KARIN CHAN
karin@iamkoream.com

South Korean golfer Chun In-gee, 20, won her first LPGA major championship Sunday in her debut at the U.S. Women’s Open in Pennsylvania.

Chun, now the seventh South Korean golfer to claim this title, enjoyed a one-stroke victory over fellow South Korean Amy Yang to an American audience at Lancaster Country Club. Chun shot a 4-under 66 in the final round with a four-round total of 8 under to become the first player to win her U.S. Open debut since Birdie Kim in 2005.

“I had a birdie opportunity on the 15th on all four days, and I was feeling great playing that hole today, too,” she told Yonhap News Agency. “On the final hole, I got into deep rough (off the tee). I wanted to play it safe and punch it out to the fairway, and hit a solid third shot. This was a long course (at 6,406 yards) with thick rough, and missing the fairway would make life difficult. Fortunately, I hit good shots all week and didn’t miss much.”

Winner of last year’s U.S. Open, Korean American player Michelle Wie winced in pain throughout the rounds due to her hip and leg injuries. South Korean Park In-bee tied with Stacy Lewis for third place.

Having won a major on Japan’s LPGA and 3 times on Korea’s LPGA this year, Chun’s success has resulted in a fan club, “The Flying Dumbos,” named after the young golfer’s nickname, “Dumbo.” Now written on Chun’s golf bag as a playful nod, the nickname stuck ever since Chun’s coach claimed that she has supersonic hearing, Golfweek reported.

“Everything I faced and I did here was completely new,” Chun told Associated Press. “So all I did was enjoy the new stuff … I enjoyed it and had a lot of fun. Even though I’m Korean, here American fans supported me a lot and they gave a lot of claps. That has put me in the great rhythm of play, and I enjoyed that tournament rhythm.”

Chun is still thinking about whether she should claim the LPGA membership because of her Korean sponsor commitments, according to ESPN. The sports channel reported that Chun has several more tournaments to play, returning to Korea for two KLPGA tournaments and heading to Scotland for the Women’s British Open.

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Featured image via Fox Sports/YouTube (Screenshot)

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Danny Lee Wins First PGA Tour Title at Greenbrier Classic

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo
reera@iamkoream.com

Korean New Zealander Danny Lee won his maiden PGA Tour title at the 2015 Greenbrier Classic on Sunday after a sudden-death playoff, reports the Associated Press.

After four rounds on the Old White TPC course in West Virginia, Lee shared the lead with David Hearn, Kevin Kisner and Robert Streb at 13 under. The 24-year-old golfer edged out the other three players with a par on the second playoff hole.

“All I can say is wow,” Lee told ESPN. “I finally did it. Now I understand what winning on the PGA Tour feels like.”

With his victory, Lee earned $1.2 million and became the first New Zealander to win a U.S. PGA Tour title in 10 years as well as the ninth first-time winner on tour this season.

Lee’s win comes one week after he gave away his driver to a young fan during the final round of the Traveler’s Championship. Apparently, the change in driver worked in Lee’s favor at the Greenbier Classic.

“I think it was great karma,” Lee told ESPN about his unexpected charitable deed. He joked that he might give away other clubs to fans in future tours, although he plans to hold onto his new driver.

Born in South Korea, Lee immigrated to New Zealand at eight-years-old. At age 18, he became the youngest winner of the U.S. Amateur Championship in August 2008, topping the World Amateur Golf Ranking until he turned pro the following year.

With his first PGA Tour title, Lee qualifies for this year’s Open Championship, the PGA Championship and the 2016 Masters Tournament.

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Featured image via ESPN (screenshot)

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Minjee Lee Wins First LPGA Title at Kingsmill Championship

Minjee Lee, an 18-year-old Korean Australian rookie, won her first LPGA title on Monday at the Kingsmill Championship in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Lee, who turned pro last September, stumbled to a three-putt bogey at the 16th hole on Sunday before the play was halted due to darkness. The next morning, the teen 2-putted for par on the final two holes, and then waited to see if anyone would catch her.

Alison Lee, 20, had a chance to match Lee, but after she had birdied the par-5 15th, she bogeyed on the final hole and dropped to third. Meanwhile, Ryu So-yeon, 24, shot three straight birdies to jump minus-13 and parred the last to finish in second place.

Lee’s pair of clinching pars cemented her victory, earning her a $195,000 winner’s check.

“I didn’t think this moment would come this year, so I’m stoked to have won,” Lee told the Associated Press. “Just because I won in my rookie season, I feel like I could probably do it again.”

With her new title, Lee became the seventh player to win on tour before her 19th birthday. Alongside Korean golfers Kim Sei-young and Kim Hyo-joo, Lee is also the third rookie to win a tournament this year.

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Featured image courtesy of Gabrielroux.com.mx/LPGA.com

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Lydia Ko Defends Her Title at Lake Merced

by DOUG FERGUSON, AP Golf Writer

DALY CITY, Calif. (AP) — The steady hands over important putts. The easy laughter even while playing a sudden-death playoff. Lydia Ko can make it seem like child’s play on the LPGA Tour even as she keeps piling up victories at an alarming rate.

The 18-year-old says she gets just as nervous as anyone else.

“You have to take my word on that,” Ko said with a smile after winning the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic for the second straight year.

It sure didn’t look that way Sunday at Lake Merced. Not after she opened with a pair of bogeys when she needed to make up ground on the leaders. Not after she missed a 6-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole to tie for the lead.

Instead, the Korean-born Kiwi calmly sank an 8-foot birdie putt on the par-5 18th hole for a 2-under 70 that got her into a playoff with Morgan Pressel. She won on the second extra hole — her third time playing the 18th — by rolling in a 5-foot birdie putt for her second LPGA Tour victory of the season, and the seventh of her career. She now has won five of her last 25 starts on the LPGA Tour.

“She’s very, very impressive and always there,” Pressel said. “At her age, she plays with so much poise and calmness I don’t think you see from other kids her age.”

Pressel caught herself and smiled.

“I guess she’s not a kid anymore,” she added.

Ko celebrated her 18th birthday Friday, and then had cause for another celebration by outlasting Pressel and 17-year-old Brooke Henderson of Canada on a back nine that featured a burst of great shots followed by some sloppy game that turned the final hour into a test of survival.

Ko had reason to believe this week wasn’t going to end favorably for her. Right when she was about to fall three shots behind, Ko made a 40-foot birdie putt on the par-3 15th hole that curled in from the left side on the final turn. And then she chopped up the 16th hole for a bogey and failed to convert a great birdie chance at the 17th.

Just her luck, Pressel and Henderson were struggling, too.

Henderson holed a bunker shot for eagle on the par-5 14th to get within one shot of Pressel, but only as long as it took Pressel to get up-and-down behind the 14th green for birdie to stretch the margin to two shots.

Pressel made bogey on the next two holes. Henderson chunked a chip on the 15th and made bogey.

“I think it’s always very close whenever I play this event,” Ko said.

A year ago, she had to make a 6-foot birdie on the last hole to hang on for a one-shot victory. She learned then that every shot counts, so Ko figured she had wasted a chance when she missed her short birdie try on the 17th hole for a chance to catch Pressel.

“I said, ‘If I want to put some pressure, I need to make a birdie or better on 18,'” Ko said. “Ended up being good for that. But yeah, this tournament always makes my heart clench. I got so nervous. It’s a good thing they’re going in the hole.”

It was a crushing loss for Pressel, who missed a playoff at the ANA Inspiration by one shot earlier this month and has not won on the LPGA since 2008 at Kapalua. It was a wild day for Pressel, who made a 40-foot eagle putt on the front nine, along with missing three putts from about 4 feet — two for birdie, one for par — that kept her from getting some separation she could have used.

Pressel had a 15-foot birdie putt for the win on the 18th in regulation. She missed and shot 72.

Ko was on the putting green listening for a cheer that never happened. She figured the 18th would come down to putting, and she was right. The 18th hole could not be reached in two, so it effectively became a wedge-and-putt contest.

Pressel had a 10-foot birdie putt for the win on the first extra hole that grazed the edge of the cup. On her third try, an 8-foot birdie putt was pulled and never had a chance. Ko calmly stepped in and made her 5-footer.

“I just couldn’t convert the putts,” Pressel said. “It all comes down to putting. She birdied it twice and I didn’t.”

Ko hit a 4-iron hybrid for her second shot on the 18th in regulation and then a 5-iron hybrid in the playoff. Both times left her with an easy pitching wedge. On the third time, she decided to get more aggressive by hitting a 3-iron hybrid. That left her 96 yards, and she was able to close the face on a 54-degree wedge that she could hammer. It was her best shot of the tree, leaving her 5 feet below the cup for the winner.

Henderson opened with two bogeys in three holes to fall out of the lead for the first time since Friday morning. The Canadian never caught up, though she was never out of it until missing her 25-foot birdie putt on the final hole.

“It was one of the least nervous putts I had all day,” Henderson said. “I could see it going in in my mind, but it didn’t happen in real life.”

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Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Featured image via Robert Laberge/Getty Images and LPGA.com

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Just In Case You Missed It: Sei Young Kim’s Eagle to Beat Inbee Park

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim
jamesskim@iamkoream.com

When one thinks walk-off win, golf isn’t the sport that immediately comes to mind. But Sei Young Kim made two incredible shots this past Saturday and took the LPGA Tour’s Lotte Championship in Kapolei, Hawaii.

The 22-year-old rookie nearly didn’t make it there: Her drive on the 18th hole went into the water. “I saw the ball go into the hazard and I thought, ‘What have I done to deserve this fate?'” Kim told Golf.com. ”Then the gift came right back after that. I still can’t believe what just happened.”

Kim recovered with a chip-in from 18 feet to force a playoff with fellow South Korean Inbee Park, who was seeking her 14th LPGA title. However, Park would fall victim to another brilliant shot by Kim in the sudden-death playoff.

On the approach, Kim lifted a 154-yard shot that bounced twice before it dropped into the hole for eagle. She didn’t know if shot had gone in, but the cheering crowd let her know quite clearly.

Park’s attempts to match Kim’s shot came short, leading Kim to win the championship.

“Inbee said two things to me,” Kim said. “‘How did you get that in?’ And ‘congratulations.'”

Watch both shots below:

Kim collected her second-career LPGA victory while becoming the first South Korean winner in the tournament’s four-year history. She has a cool $270,000 winner’s check to boot.

However, when Kim was asked how memorable this shot ranked in her career, it came up only second. “In 2013, I won a tournament, which had the biggest prize money on KLPGA,” she told Golf.com. “I won that tournament by making a hole-in-one on 17, so that was probably my most memorable shot.”

South Korean players swept the first five places: I.K. Kim finished third, while Hyo Joo Kim and Chella Choi tied for fourth.

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LPGA Player Danielle Kang Endures Death Threats from Two Men at Dinner

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo
reera@iamkoream.com

LPGA player Danielle Kang had a rough day on the course at the ANA Inspiration after she finished up a third-round 77 and tied for 53rd place on Saturday. Her night, unfortunately, got a lot worse.

Kang, 22, tweeted that she was dining with her mother and a friend at Midori, a sushi restaurant, in Rancho Mirage, Calif. when two men “randomly started yelling” at them. At first, Kang and her companions ignored the hecklers, but the situation quickly escalated when the men screamed at them to “turn around” and began threatening to kill them.

According to the Golf Channel, the men shouted, “I’m going to f—– kill you. It’s not my fault you played like s—, you stupid b—-. I could slap you.”

“I was actually scared for my life,” Kang said. She added that one of the men accused her party of insulting his heritage. He then claimed that he was going to wait outside for Kang.

“We are going to beat the s— out of you,” the man said before he left the restaurant.

Kang immediately called the police, but the men were gone before the officers arrived at the restaurant around 6:30 p.m. Riverside Sheriff’s Department Deputy Michael Vasquez said officers are currently investigating the incident and threats. Two officers escorted Kang and her mother back to the hotel, and multiple security officers took turns following the LPGA player during Sunday’s round.

Although the two men in question have yet to be identified, Kang said she gave the deputies a credit card that one of the men left behind at the restaurant.

Despite the death threats, Kang played beautifully and closed with a 67.

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Featured photo courtesy of Danielle Kang/Instagram

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Cristie Kerr Ends Winning Streak for South Korean-born LPGA Golfers

Pictured above: Mirim Lee of South Korea tees off the 2nd hole during Final Round of the LPGA Kia Classic at the Aviara Golf Club. (Photo courtesy of LPGA/Getty Images)

by the ASSOCIATED PRESS

CARLSBAD, Calif. (AP) — The birdie putts had not even reached the hole when Cristie Kerr marched right after them because she knew they were going in. Sunday at the Kia Classic had a familiar feeling to Kerr, even though so much in her life has changed.

Four birdies in a five-hole stretch helped Kerr erase a three-shot deficit in the final round at Aviara Golf Club. Four straight birdies on the back nine enabled her to pull away from Mirim Lee and 17-year-old Lydia Ko.

Kerr closed with a 7-under 65 for a two-shot victory, the 17th of her career, this one different from all the others. Before posing with the trophy, Kerr first clutched her 15-month-old son, Mason, to celebrate her first win as a mom.

“I could just tell by everybody’s reaction that I had won,” Kerr said. “It was just amazing having him there, and he just gave me a big smile and a squeak. He’s screaming now. That’s his thing, and I always hoped this day would come. And now it has. Just so proud.”

Kerr ended 42 straight LPGA events without a victory dating to the 2013 Kingsmill Championship. She finished at 20-under 268, breaking by six shots the 72-hole scoring record at a tournament that began in 2010.

It also ended a streak of seven consecutive LPGA events won by South Korean-born players dating to the CME Group Tour Championship last year.

“I love to win,” Kerr said. “Golf has always been great to me, always given me special moments like this.”

Lee nearly made it eight in a row when she drove the par-4 16th green to 4 feet for an eagle to get within one shot. But her next tee shot didn’t work out so well. She pushed it into the trees and chopped up the par-5 17th for a double bogey, costing her any reasonable chance of winning. She closed with a 70.

Ko was tied for the lead with a birdie on the par-3 14th hole, but the No. 1 player in women’s golf didn’t make another birdie the rest of the way. She lipped out on a 5-foot putt on the 16th and finished with a three-putt bogey on the 18th for a 67 to finish third.

It was her 28th consecutive round under par on the LPGA Tour, one short of the record Annika Sorenstam set in 2004. Ko’s next event is the ANA Inspiration at Mission Hills, the first LPGA major of the year.

“Last three holes were a little iffy, like yesterday, but 67 around here is good and I’ve improved my placing compared to last year, so a lot of positives to take from this week,” Ko said. “And I’m excited for the first major next week.”

Ko had her 10th consecutive finish in the top 10.

The 37-year-old Kerr couldn’t hold back tears after she won. The father of her caddie, Greg Johnston, died a week ago and Kerr said she wanted to win it for both of them.

“I’ve been working with a new coach, and I definitely found something this week,” Kerr said. “He said I was going to have a hot round, and he was right. I just found something. I’m just real happy right now.”

Having her son around made it all the more sweeter.

“I think when I got in contention last year, I thought about winning a little too much, wanting him to be on the green,” Kerr said. “But you know, everything happens for a reason, and last year he couldn’t have run out to meet me. So maybe that was fate, too. But it was just huge.”

Ilhee Lee became the third player this week to match the course record with a 64. Morgan Pressel had a 64 in the second round, and Se Ri Pak had one in third Saturday.

Allison Lee (71) finished alone in fourth, while Inbee Park had a late surge for a 67 to finish fifth.

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Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.