Tag Archives: Golf

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James Hahn Wins First PGA Tour Title at Northern Trust Open

by STEVE HAN | @steve_han
steve@iamkoream.com

James Hahn is heading to the Masters for the first time in his life after notching a dramatic win at the Northern Trust Open golf tournament from this past weekend.

With the win, the 33-year-old has earned a two-year exemption on a PGA Tour, which guarantees his place in at least two World Golf Championships. He rolled in a birdie putt from 25 feet away on the third extra hole at Riviera to beat Dustin Johnson and Paul Casey in a three-man playoff. Hideki Matsuyama, Jordan Spieth, Keegan Bradley and Sergio Garcia all missed the playoff by a shot.

Hahn collected $1.26 million in prize money, a sizable sum for the South Korean-born, Bay Area-raised Korean American who used to sell shoes for a living at Nordstrom.

“[I] came from a small town,” Hahn told the Associated Press. “Didn’t do well in college. Was never an All-American. Sold shoes for a living. And then just one day, the putts started going in and I started playing a little better. Won a couple of golf tournaments, and now I’m here.”

After graduating from University of California, Berkeley in 2003, Hahn turned professional and played a year in Korea, two years in Canada before joining the Nationwide Tour in 2010. His first major was at the 2012 U.S. Open at age 31. During a decade of competing as an underdog, Hahn admitted that there were times when he thought about giving up golf altogether.

“It was a little embarrassing,” Hahn said. “I was going to borrow money from my parents to get a flight home. And I’m sitting there on the computer going on Craigslist and I start looking for jobs. It kind of hit me like, ‘Hey, you have an opportunity to do something with your life.'”

Before the Northern Trust Open, the Korean American golfer was best known for his good-natured humor and his dance moves. In the 2013 Waste Management Open in Phoenix, Ariz., Hahn gained media fame after performing the “Gangnam Style” dance on the course.

You can watch James Hahn talk about his win at the 2015 Northern Trust Open below:

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Featured image courtesy of FOX.com

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Golfer Lydia Ko Plans to Retire and Be a Psychologist by 30

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

There’s no denying that Lydia Ko has had her head in the game since winning her first professional golf event as a 15-year-old amateur. Now still only 17, the Korean New Zealander is already looking ahead to what she wants to do beyond her professional golf career, and it has to do with studying what goes on inside heads.

“I say my plan is to retire when I’m 30 so I’m not just going to go to the beach and hang out for the rest of my life,” Ko told the Associated Press on Wednesday. “There’s always a second career that comes along with it and I’m trying to build up towards it and, because I’m playing a sport, psychology links well with it.”

If you think 30 is an early age to hang up the golf clubs, Ko has done quite a bit already in her few years on the pro circuit. She became the LPGA’s youngest woman to win $1 million this last July. She’s won five times on tour, and on Jan. 31, Ko became the youngest player of either gender to be ranked first in the world rankings, breaking the record Tiger Woods set by almost four years. Last year, she was one of Time’s 100 Most Influential people.

Ko plans to begin an online course towards a psychology degree soon. “My mom will get me off my iPad and phone and tell me to work hard and look at the text books,” Ko said.

For now, seemingly the only accomplishment left is winning a major. This is only her second year as a pro, mind you, but Ko isn’t allowing the pressure to get to her. That’s a good sign for the future psychologist.

“Last year I had two top-10 finishes (in majors) which was better than the year before when I had one,” Ko said. “I’m looking for more consistency in playing majors and then one day that will give me a chance to be around the lead.”

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Featured image via Golf Digest

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Lydia Ko Named the Youngest Golfer to Reach No. 1

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo
reera@iamkoream.com

Lydia Ko, 17, made golf history on Saturday by becoming the youngest player of either gender to reach No. 1 in the world ranking, breaking Tiger Woods’ record by nearly four years, according to ESPN.

Ko initially held a four shot lead in the Coates Golf Championship in Ocala, Fla., but the teen golfer double-bogeyed on the 17th hole and lost by one stroke to South Korea’s Na-yeon Choi, who finished with a 4-under 68 and a 16-under total. The New Zealander ended up placing second in a three-way tie with Jessica Korda and Ha Na Jang, but she unseated Inbee Park in the top spot of the Rolex World Rankings.

Tiger Woods previously held the record for being the youngest golfer to climb to No. 1 in 1997, when he was only 21 years old. Ko managed to reach the mark by 3 years, 8 months and 14 days earlier.

Ko seems to be the youngest player to achieve just about anything in the golf world. She became the youngest player to win a professional golf tournament at age 14 and was named the youngest winner of an LPGA Tour event at age 15 after she won gold at the CN Canadian Women’s Open.

Last November, Ko ended the season by winning the CME Titleholders and taking home the $1 million bonus for the season-long points rage. If Ko had won Coates Championship, it would have been her sixth LPGA title, according to the Golf Channel

Coates Golf Championship Presented By R+L Carriers - Final RoundNa-yeon Choi poses with the Coates Golf Championship trophy. Photo courtesy of AFP-Yonhap.

Meanwhile, Choi’s victory at the Golden Ocala Golf and Equestrian Club was an emotional one as it marked the 27-year-old golfer’s first win since 2012. Choi had won the 2012 U.S. Women’s Open, but she fell into a two-year victory drought and eventually was dropped from the top 15 in the world rankings.

“I think I was so nervous out there,” Choi told ESPN after winning her eighth LPGA title as she fought back tears. “I was waiting so long for this moment.”

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Photo courtesy of  Chris Trotman/Getty Images via LPGA.com

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Lydia Ko Reveals New Look for 2015 LPGA Season

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo
reera@iamkoream.com

Lydia Ko recently unveiled a new look for the new 2015 LPGA season.

The 17-year-old golfer ditched her trademark glasses for contact lenses during her offseason. Ko joked that her transformation was so great that even her caddie, Jason Hamilton, did not recognize her.

“I’ve been using [contact lenses] a couple weeks now,” Kim said in an interview with the Golf Channel. “I think it’s a good change. I’ve definitely gotten used to them.”

According to the teen golfer, her switch to contact lenses was for practical purposes as her optometrist warned her that glasses can cause distortion in peripheral vision and can be a disadvantage in tournaments held in rainy countries, such as the British Open.

“The last thing I want is to have to clean my glasses when I’m playing,” she said.

For the first time in her career, Ko took a month off from golf. She spent her break traveling between her New Zealand home and South Korea.

Ko opened the 2015 LPGA season with a 4-under par 68 at the Coates Golf Championship in Florida on Wednesday. She is currently in a four-way tie for third place and is five shots behind leader Jang Ha Na.

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Photo courtesy of BWMedia.co.nz and LPGA

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Michelle Wie to Make Guest Appearance on ‘Hawaii Five-0′

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

Michelle Wie isn’t a stranger to the spotlight, especially after enjoying a very successful resurgent 2014 LPGA season. To keep herself busy during the offseason, the 25-year-old will be joining fellow Korean American actors Grace Park and Daniel Dae Kim in an upcoming episode of Hawaii Five-0, Golf.com reports.

Wie posted the above picture of herself posing on the Hawaii Five-0 set on her Instagram account (@themichellewie), saying, “Officially an actress now #hawaii50 #wheresmySAGcard @danieldaekim.”

Like Wie, Kim is a Honolulu native and a close friend of hers. He was on hand to watch Wie win her first major championship at the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open back in June.

Hawaii Five-0 airs Friday evenings at 9 p.m. EST on CBS.

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Lydia Ko Named the Youngest LPGA Rookie of the Year

by REERA YOO

Lydia Ko became the youngest player to win the LPGA Tour’s rookie of the year award on Wednesday, reports Yahoo Sports.

The 17-year-old golfer secured the points-based honor with three tournaments remaining in the LPGA Tour schedule, before the Mizuno Classic in Japan. Ko already has two wins, a pair of runner-up finishes and nine other top-10 finishes under her belt for this season. In addition, the New Zealand teen has earned just over $1.5 million and ranks third in the Rolex Rankings. She is also third in the LPGA Tour’s Race to the CME Globe, which ends next week with $1 million being presented to the winner, according to the Associated Press.

“It’s really been a dream rookie season for me,” said Ko. “I learned so much and am glad to have
achieved some of my goals along the way. It’s an honor to have my name now etched alongside such
amazing players and legends of the game on the list of Rookie of the Year winners.”

Laura Baugh previously held the record as the youngest LPGA rookie of the year when she won the award in 1973 at the age of 18.

Photo courtesy of Jason Franson/The Canadian Press

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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.”

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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. 

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

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