Tag Archives: Golf

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 1.01.55 PM

Danielle Kang Wins a Buick Three Days After Her Birthday

by REERA YOO

Danielle Kang got herself a sweet belated birthday present after Thursday’s opening round of the Blue Bay LPGA in China.

After making a hole-in-one at the 17th hole, Kang won a new Buick LaCrosse, three days after her 22nd birthday. It was a memorable birthday for the golfer as this was the first time she celebrated it since her father died of cancer last year.

“I think it was a gift from him,” Kang said.

She added that her birthday felt especially long this year due to the time change. Since China is 12 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Time, Kang received birthday wishes from all over the world over the course of two days.

“It was the longest birthday of my life, actually,” Kang told the media. “I went to sleep and then I woke up, and it was still my birthday. We drove in a car, got to the hotel and then I went to sleep, and it was still my birthday … I had a full day of birthday.”

 

Sang-Moon Bae

Bae Wins PGA Tour Opener at Silverado

by DOUG FERGUSON, AP Golf Writer

NAPA, Calif. (AP) — Bae Sang-moon set a big goal for the new PGA Tour season. He wants to end it at home in South Korea by playing in the Presidents Cup.

He couldn’t have asked for a better start.

Bae won the season-opening Frys.com Open on Sunday by stretching his lead to as many as six shots in the hot sunshine of Napa Valley, leaving plenty of room for a few mistakes that only made it interesting for a short time.

He closed with a 1-over 73 at Silverado, the first player on the PGA Tour since Ben Crane at the St. Jude Classic in June to win with a final round over par. Bae took three putts from the collar of the green on the par-5 18th for a two-shot victory over Steven Bowditch, who had a 67.

“There’s always pressure on Sunday because other players behind me are charging, so I tried to maintain my focus and play my own game,” Bae said.

He really won this tournament on Saturday afternoon by saving par on the 16th and following with an eagle and a birdie to build a four-shot lead. The only drama in the final round came from the 28-year-old South Korean, who was six shots clear after the 10th hole until a trio of three-putt bogeys — two of them from just off the green — started to bring him back to the field.

The most important shot he hit all day was a chip behind the green on the par-5 16th that settled near the hole for a par to keep his two-shot lead over Bowditch, who had already finished.

“I think it was the hardest chip on today,” Bae said. “It was a really, really good up-and-down. If I made bogey on that hole, I think I lose focus next hole. But I hit it really good from off the green.”

Ultimately, no one got closer than two shots of Bae, who finished at 15-under 273.

Goosen played with Bae the opening two rounds and knew what he was up against on Sunday.

“He hit the ball very well and his putter was super hot,” Goosen said. “I knew he was going to be tough to catch this weekend the way he was striking it. He’s not really going to make many mistakes.”

Bae made his share, though by then it was too late to matter.

Hunter Mahan, one of four players in the field who were in the Ryder Cup two weeks ago, looked as if he might make a run when he holed out from 91 yards on the 13th hole for eagle to get within two shots of the lead. But he hit a poor chip on the 15th that led to bogey, and he barely got out of the bunker on the par-5 16th that kept him from a birdie.

Mahan closed with a 70 and wound up in five-way tie for third with Retief Goosen, Hideki Matsuyama, Martin Laird and Bryce Molder. Matsuyama finished with two straight birdies, and tied for third for the second straight year at the Frys.com Open.

The Presidents Cup goes to Asia for the first time next year at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea in Incheon. It will be the biggest golf event ever in South Korea, and Bae would rather not be watching on television.

“I think it’s most important to me because it’s in Korea next year. It really means a lot,” he said. “There’s a lot of good golfers in Korea, but I’m really working hard. I really want to play Presidents Cup next year. If I can’t play it, I will be really sad.”

The Frys.com Open was just the start, however, The last time Bae won in 2013 at the Byron Nelson Championship, he went 36 straight PGA Tour events without so much as a top 10 until winning Sunday.

“The first one was hard, but second one was more difficult,” he said. “But now I’ve got the second one, I think third and fourth will come easy since I have the confidence.”

Zach Blair, the PGA Tour rookie who played in the final group, was out of the mix quickly with early bogeys. He had a 74 to tie for 12th, five strokes back.

Matt Kuchar, playing in the penultimate group and starting the final round five shots behind, fell back quickly by missing a 4-foot putt on the opening hole and hitting behind a tree on the third hole. He closed with a 76. Brooks Koepka missed several birdie chances late that could have at least made Bae think. He had a 72 and had to settle for a top 10 in the PGA Tour opener, along with Hudson Swafford, Jon Curran and Robert Allenby.

Lee Westwood had a 69-67 weekend and tied for 12th.

Jarrod Lyle, in his first PGA Tour since a recurrence of leukemia some 18 months ago, shot par or better all four days and closed with a 70 to tie for 31st.

Photo courtesy of Eric Risberg/AP. 

___

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Mi+Rim+Lee+2014+Reignwood+LPGA+Classic+Day+mhBuqqCQy66x

SKorean Rookie Mirim Lee Wins Her Second LPGA Tournament

by STEVE HAN

South Korean rookie Mirim Lee notched the second win of her rookie season on the LPGA Tour, edging top-ranked Stacy Lewis and Caroline Hedwall after shooting a 5-under 69 in the final round at the Reignwood Classic.

The 23-year-old rookie’s first win was only two months ago when she beat her countrywoman Inbee Park at the Meijer LPGA Classic.

“I really didn’t think I would get my second win this quickly,” Lee said, according to the Associated Press. “I was a lot more nervous this time than first time around.”

Hedwall finished second behind Lee at 13 under, and Lewis slipped out of contention after adding three bogeys on the back nine.

Even though Lewis struggled, Lee said competing against one of the world’s best golfers, who already won three titles this year, was a learning experience for her.

“Usually when I play my rounds I don’t watch the other players,” Lee said. “Today I really observed how Stacy played, and she was such a phenomenal player. It shows why she is the No. 1 player in the world.”

With her second win, Lee moved up 11 spots in the world rankings to No. 18.

14 09 hurmj 455888054 620x349

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

kim-anthony-073011-640x360_0

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

Wie Rolex Annika major award

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.

 

Hyo Joo Kim

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.

kim-hyo-joo-072812-640x360

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