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Tour is different strokes for different folks

LPGA takes two-week break and pros use time in various ways
Aug 10,2017
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From left: Park In-bee, Kim In-kyung, Kim Sei-young and Park Sung-hyun watch their shot during an LPGA tournament. [JOONGANG PHOTO, AP/YONHAP]
The LPGA Tour is on a two-week break and since there is no LPGA tournament this weekend and the Solheim Cup is next weekend, the world’s best female golfers are resting until the CN Canadian Women’s Open, which starts on Aug. 24.

Rather than taking another long trip to Korea, Kim In-kyung, the Ricoh Women’s British Open champion, chose to spend more time in Europe with her manager. The day after the British Open, Kim posted pictures and videos of herself at the St. Andrews Old Course on Instagram and referred to the greens mowers as “true champions in our lives.”

After her Europe trip, Kim will return to her home in the United States today, where she will practice during the off week.

Starting on Friday, Park In-bee will compete at the Jeju Samdasoo Masters for her first KLPGA Tour victory this season. A week after Park’s outing, Lee Mi-hyang and Kim Sei-young will also be competing in the KLPGA Tour’s Bogner MBN Ladies Open, starting on Aug. 18.

So far this season, the two have won one tournament each - Kim won the Lorena Ochoa Match Play Invitational in May and Lee won the Aberdeen Asset Ladies Scottish Open two weeks ago. The upcoming tournament was Kim’s last KLPGA tournament victory in 2015, and the one in which Lee recorded her best KLPGA Tour finish, as runner-up.

Park Sung-hyun also returned to Korea on Tuesday for the first time since her victory at the U.S. Women’s Open at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, in July. But rather than playing in a KLPGA Tour event, Park chose to rest for the next two weeks.

After her sponsor event, she will head back to the United States on August 17.

Park, a super-rookie on the LPGA Tour, is guaranteed a Rookie of the Year award, having earned 1,135 points, which is more than double the number earned by Angel Yin of the United States, who is second in the Rookie of the Year race.

Starting with Jang Ha-na’s victory at the ISPS Handa Australian Open, Korean golfers are dominating the LPGA Tour this season. Kim currently won the most number of tournaments, taking three just this season, and Ryu So-yeon, the world’s No.1 golfer, is closely behind Kim with two victories.

During the first half of the season, Korean golfers won a total of 12 out of 22 tournaments, recording a winning average of 54.5 percent. At this point, they may easily get to 15 wins, which hasn’t been done since 2015.

“A lot of the Korean players provide friendly competition,” Park was quoted as saying by Yonhap News Agency. “I just can’t let up because everyone is playing so well.”

This season, Korean golfers have taken three major tournaments, starting with Ryu So-yeon’s victory at ANA Inspiration, Park Sung-hyun’s win at the U.S. Women’s Open and Kim In-kyung’s win at the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

If a Korean golfer wins the Evian Championship in September, Korea will dominate the LPGA Tour, winning all four major tournaments for the first time in history - a “Korean grand slam.”

As the break continues, the Solheim Cup, a biennial golf tournament between team United States and team Europe, will run from August 18 to 20 in Des Moines, Iowa.

BY KIM DU-YONG [kang.yoorim@joongang.co.kr]