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Han Wins Wendy`s Championship with Birdie in Playoff

Posted August. 11, 2003 21:52,   


It was a dramatic and meaningful victory. 25-year-old Han Hee-won (FILA Korea) dealt a big blow to U.S. LPGA, which recently made a controversial decision to forbid Korean players to speak to their fathers in Korean citing Korean fathers `breaking the courtesy rules.`

Han made a 25-foot birdie putt on the third hole of sudden death at Tartan Fields Golf Club Sunday, Aug. 10, in Dublin, Ohio to beat Wendy Ward and win the Wendy`s Championship.

She collected $165,000 for her second win of the year, following her victory last month at the Big Apple Classic. Boosted by her second victory, she is now hoping to reach the one million dollar mark to join LPGA big stars.

Han was different from what she had been. She worked hard and persistently not to settle for second place this time again. Han ended up at 17-under-par 199 and fell into the playoff against Wendy Ward. On the third playoff hole, Han rolled in the impressive 25-foot birdie putt.

The win didn`t come easy for Han, though. Before winning the Big Apple Classic three weeks ago, Han had not won a single title while playing at 66 tournaments. Then, what made these dramatic changes?

Experts point out that Han went through hard weight training in last winter. She had a hellish training for two months early this year not to repeat the same mistake she made last year – she lost three opportunities to become a champion due to the lack of endurance.

Having gone through hard training, Han now boasts top-class iron shots at LPGA. Her preciseness on green, which was only 66.1% last year, has improved to 72.5%, or the fifth rank, higher than Pak Se-ri`s 71.2%. At this tournament, her preciseness reached as high as 83.3%.

Showing great concentration during tournament, Han is now much better at putting too. Compared to 87-round 272 birdies last year, she already made 65-round 246 birdies, ranking the second following Park Ji-eun (256 birdies).

This is why experts say that even Annika Sorentam found it hard to beat Han Hee-won this time.

Young-Sik Ahn ysahn@donga.com