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Jang Ha-na returns to Seoul with parents after Jeju trip

June 15,2017
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Jang Ha-na at a park near Gimpo International Airport on Monday. [KIM CHOON-SIK]
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A photo of Jang’s parents taken by Jang at the glass art theme park in Jeju. [JANG HA-NA]
After spending two weeks on Jeju Island, Jang Ha-na made her way back to Seoul on Monday along with her parents.

At the Lotte Cantata Women’s Open, Jang’s return match, she finished tied for ninth. In the following week, at the 11th S-OIL Championship, Jang finished tied for 29th, where she suffered food poisoning prior to the final round. Although she wasn’t able to get the results she wanted, Jang was satisfied about her return to Korea, as she got to spend time with her parents and had her parents watch her play.

“Getting sick during the tournament wasn’t the best thing but I was glad I got to spend time with my parent and made great memories,” Jang said at the Gimpo International Airport on Monday. Jang, who made a return as a full time KLPGA tour player in two seasons, found the field more competitive this year.

“Three years ago, there were 20 players at most competing, but now, unexpected players excel in the final round for a victory,” Jang said.

Last month, Jang made a surprise announcement that she was going to return her LPGA tour card, which was secure until the 2019, and play solely on the KLPGA tour, to spend more time with her family and friends. Jang, who turned professional in 2010, won eight KLPGA tour events and during her 2013 season, she was the leader in the KLPGA’s money list.

Continuing her success, Jang started to play on the LPGA tour in 2015 and in her second season on the tour, she won three tournaments, which was the most number of victories among the Korean golfers in the 2016 season. After a successful 2016 season, Jang then won the ISPS Handa Australian Open, becoming the first Korean of 2017 to win the LPGA tour event. As Jang was one of the dominant Korean players on the LPGA tour, her decision came as a shock to fans.

When Jang left to the United States to play on the LPGA tour, her parents had to be separated. Being the only child in the family, having Jang and her father leave to the United States had a big influence on her mother, Kim Yeon-suk. Since the two left after Kim closed the restaurant, which she managed for 30 years, she suffered depression. Jang’s father, Jang Chang-ho, also had a hard time mentally after the luggage incident with Chun In-gee last season.

“I’ve had a thought of returning to Korea since the end of last year but I just couldn’t tell my father,” Jang said. “But once he asked me to go back to Korea after a tournament in Phoenix, there was no reason for me to hesitate. So I bought the plane ticket back home the next day.”

During Jang’s time on the LPGA tour, she had a lot of accomplishments, but was never satisfied about her life in the United States. Unlike her time in Korea, where she held a party after a win, in the United States, the only celebration was dinner with her father and packing for the next tournament. And once she won, she had to work harder to secure her spot on the tour.

“I felt like a hamster on a treadmill,” Jang said. “Since I left to the United States, I only played golf for the dream of becoming the world No.1. But now, I want to go back to 2013 where I enjoyed playing golf. Rather than chasing after my own goal, I want to set a goal that involves everyone around me.”

Though Jang’s fans were somewhat disappointed regarding her decision to return, she gained more domestic fans by showing how much she cares for her parents. Throughout the two tournaments in Jeju, Jang had some other player’s fans cheer for her, a sight that even made one of the tournament associates cry.

In the remaining season, Jang will have to compete for a full seed next year. Since all the seed exemptions she received from winning tournaments, up until the 2015 season, will expire at the end of this season, Jang will have to finish within the top 60 in the 2017 KLPGA money list to secure her seed for next year.

BY JUNG YOUNG-JAE, KANG YOO-RIM [kang.yoorim@joongang.co.kr]