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.
Images via Golf Digest
by STEVE HAN
It was a perfect ending for Rochester’s very last LPGA Championship. The tournament lasted as long as it could, and in a two-player, sudden-death playoff, Inbee Park defended her title and notched her fifth major career victory.
Park, 26, edged Brittany Lincicome by marking the end of the LPGA Championship’s 38-year era in Rochester with clutch putts down the stretch and hoisted the championship trophy. While Lincicome later admitted that she was “shaking like a leaf” under pressure despite leading all day, Park calmly came from behind and redeemed the playoff loss she suffered at last week’s Meijer LPGA Classic.
“I think I’ve been in too many playoffs lately,” Park, nicknamed the “Silent Assassin” in South Korea, told Golfweek. “I think having the experience definitely helped. I felt a lot more comfortable after thinking that I’ve been into many playoffs, so it’ll be just another one.”
Park has shown a knack for prevailing in close contests, winning three of her last playoff battles, one of which includes last year’s LPGA Championship when she beat Catriona Matthew. Lincicome said it was Park’s experience that made the difference.
“Inbee is so darn good. It was so close,” Lincicome told the Associated Press. “I need to learn how to control the nerves a little bit more.”
Park, who in 2013 became only the fourth player in LPGA history to win three majors in a calendar year, made history again by winning two LPGA Championships on the trot.
“It definitely feels [like] a big honor to actually put my name on the trophy twice,” Park said. “[I’m] just very happy to be part of history.”
Lydia Ko, 17, finished third, only three shots behind Park.
Click here to read KoreAm Journal’s October 2013 cover story on Inbee Park.
Photo via Getty.
by JAMES S. KIM
Pro golfer Michelle Wie has had a fantastic 2014. In April, she won her first LPGA tour event since 2010 in her home state of Hawaii. A few months later, Wie won the U.S. Women’s Open, her first major championship (and ohhhh, did she celebrate). In the golf world, she shines, so her recent photo shoot with Golf Digest is perfectly fitting.
The 24-year-old LPGA player tweeted a few behind-the-scene shots on Sunday, showing off a gleaming mini-dress that matches the sheen of her U.S. Open trophy.
Keep your eyes peeled for the new issue. We can’t wait to see what Wie has up her sleeve for the rest of the year.
by HAEIN JUNG
It was a fight to the finish at the International Crown, the first-of-its-kind, global women’s golf competition that wrapped up in Maryland this past weekend.
The “crown,” along with a hefty $1.6 million paycheck, went to Spain, but South Korea had several moments of glory, and ultimately placed third. The players were recent Manulife Financial LPGA Classic winner Inbee Park, former Korean National Golf Team member So-Yeon Ryu, 2012’s U.S Women’s Open winner Na-Yeon Choi and three-time LPGA winner I.K Kim.
On Saturday, South Korea eliminated the United States in a sudden-death playoff to win the wild-card berth. Park and Ryu both birdied the first hole.
“Normally if I lose a playoff, everything is just for me and I can handle everything,” Ryu told USA Today. “But this time I have to think about Inbee, I.K. and Na Yeon and all Korean fans and all Korean people.”
Ryu and her teammates had earlier stated that they really wanted to win the tournament to uplift their nation, still grieving from the ferry tragedy that killed more than 300 people. “That means this tournament feels more bigger than the Olympic Games,” she said at the time.
Though they came up short this time, the South Korean women certainly put up a valiant fight, winning two singles but losing two others for a four-day total of 10 points.
The event was held at nationally ranked golf course Caves Valley Golf Club in Owing Mills, Maryland.
Photo via USA Today
by TONY KIM
For the first time ever, 32 female golfers representing the top eight ranked countries will face each other in order to bring the International Crown to their own country. The International Crown tournament will be held from July 21-27 at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mill, Maryland.
The eight countries have been divided into two pools and will be competing for one of five open finals qualification spots. Pool A includes the U.S., Thailand, Spain and Chinese Taipei. Pool B includes Republic of Korea, Japan, Sweden and Australia.
The top two teams with most points during the pool stage will automatically qualify for the finals, while the third place country from each pool will compete for the final spot. Teams in the pool stage will be playing two four-ball matches from Thursday to Saturday.
On Sunday, the remaining five teams will play a singles math against every other team like a round robin tournament. The team with the most total points will be crowned the winner.
Team Korea consists of Inbee Park, the 2013 Rolex Player of the Year with 10 LPGA wins; So Yeon Ryu, the 2012 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year with 2 LPGA wins; Na Yeon Choi, 2010 Vare Trophy Winner with 7 LPGA wins; and I.K. Kim, who has 3 LPGA wins. Korea is entering the tournament as the second seed right behind the U.S. team.
Photo via LPGA
by STEVE HAN
It’s the weirdest fad (granted, for a good cause) that developed in recent months in the sports world. The ice bucket challenge requires participants to dump a bucket of ice water over their heads. On top of doing that, the person also donates $50 to the Kay Yow Fund before nominating three other athletes to take part in the campaign. The Kay Yow Fund helps support scientific research and related programs focused on women’s cancers.
For athletes who’d rather keep their heads warm and dry, they can choose to donate $250 instead.
LPGA pro Michelle Wie, who recently won the U.S. Women’s Open, was among the latest athletes to accept the challenge. Here’s the video.
by JULIE HA
She did it. Michelle Wie just scored the biggest win of her career.
Just minutes ago, the 24-year-old golfer won the U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst, with a two-shot victory over the No. 1-ranked Stacy Lewis.
“Oh my gosh, I can’t believe this is happening,” Wie said on NBC, reacting to the career milestone.
Anyone who’s followed Wie’s roller coaster career, which began which so much promise and anticipation, but didn’t always produce the big wins, will appreciate the significance of this victory for the Korean American, who began playing golf at age 4. In today’s play, the Stanford graduate displayed the maturity of a champion, after recovering from a late double-bogey 6 on the 16th hole and nailing a 25-foot birdie putt on the 17th.
One NBC golf commentator summed it up, remarking, “We’ve been talking about Michelle Wie forever—the ups and downs … This is a pretty cool moment.”
Wie seems to be on a roll, making her previous, four-year winless streak a thing of the past. In April, she won the LPGA LOTTE Championship in her home state of Hawaii, which was her first LPGA victory since 2010.
Photo via Getty Images.
Photo via Getty Images
Lydia Ko, the youngest golfer ever to win a professional event, became one of TIME’s 100 most influential people, according to the weekly newsmagazine.
Ko, who celebrated her 17th birthday last Thursday, is the fifth female pro golfer to make the annual list after Annika Sorenstam, Lorena Ochoa, Yani Tseng and Michelle Wie.
On this year’s list, the Korean New Zealeander is also one of only five athletes, including tennis player Serena Williams and soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo, football player Richard Sherman and basketball player Jason Collins. She is one of only two teenagers alongside Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan, an international symbol of education rights for girls.
“Lydia Ko is exceptionally talented, mature beyond her years and well liked by golf fans and competitors alike,” said Sorenstam, an eight-time LPGA player of the year, who did the write-up about Ko for TIME. “She is responsible for sparking increased interest in our sport not just in her native South Korea and adopted homeland of New Zealand but also among juniors across the globe.”
Ko rose to prominence as a 15-year-old phenom when, as an amateur, she became the youngest ever to win a professional golf event at the 2012 Canadian Women’s Open. She won the same event the following year and turned professional a few months later.
On Sunday, Ko won her third LPGA event at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic ahead of Stacy Lewis, an eight-time winner on the tour.