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Adopted Korean Lee Wins USGA Girls

Posted July. 27, 2003 21:53,   


16-year-old Lee Suk-jin, who won the 55th US Girls` Junior on July 27, has an American family name. The Korean golfer was adopted by her aunt, who married 29 year ago then American solider Steven Westoph.

Although her parents were all alive and well, the family decided to send Lee to her aunt`s family for the future of the young golfer, who was determined to become a major world-class player. Having left her parents at the age of 12, she is now a junior champion in the U.S.

“I wanted to play golf better. It was hard to practice a full round a week a day. Here (in the U.S.), however, I can play as often as I can,” said Lee after the match.

Her victory came after a dramatic 18th-hole match play with 15-year-old Pak In-bee, a Korean who won the champion last year.

In the final round held at Brooklawn Country Club, she was trailed by five holes until the 8th. Refusing to give up, however, she made an all square on the 16th as Park made a bogey. On the 17th (four-pars and 399 yard), she put the ball on the 2.5m range with an iron shot, 157 yard away from the finish. After making a birdie, she then took the lead on the 18th.

“Playing before a large crowd, I felt my hands shaking at first. Then I remembered what my daddy, who flew from Korea to root for me, said last night. He told me, `All you have to do is do your best since defending champion is under greater pressure.`”

With the victory, Lee earned a chance to play USGA Girls for another two years as well as retain an armature title. She will also be exempt from a regional qualifying for U.S. Women`s Open for the next five years. Most of all, she now has confidence that she can do it.

Young-Sik Ahn ysahn@donga.com