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Song Aree Sets Eye on U.S. LPGA

Posted August. 21, 2003 21:30,   


`Aim High.` 17-year-old Song Aree will be the first junior golfer under age 18 to play at U.S. LPGA if she passes the qualifying school set to begin on August 27.

She has two reasons to take on the challenge. First, she does not think that studying at college will help her. Second, she finds training and traveling expenses burdensome.

Song has been in 14 U.S. LPGA events since 2000 as `a guest player.` And she made the cut at 11 events, including 6 major tours. She even ranked 5th at this year`s U.S. Open. If she had been allowed to collect cash prize, she would have earned about $237,000, or $22,000 a tournament.

Song, born in Thailand in 1986 between Korean father Song In-jong and Thai mother Bani Wongluekiet, moved to the States in 1997. Her father was determined to clear the way for Aree and her twin sister Naree, who showed great talent in golf.

Aree was named American Junior Golf Association Player of the Year last year after winning the Nancy Lopez Award in 2001. She has also been named the player of the year by the Golf Week and the Golf Digest. And she topped the second tour of the qualifying school last year for two years in a row.

Aree and Naree are known as natives of Thailand since they used their mother`s surname until recently. They have residential card numbers here in Korea, however. Having both Korean and U.S. nationalities, they plan to choose to become Koreans when they turn 18 in May next year. The twin sisters, in fact, changed their last names from Wongluekiet to Song at the start of last year`s season.

If Aree passes the qualifying school and wins a chance to play at U.S. LGPA next year, the Korean corps will wield even stronger firepower.

Young-Sik Ahn ysahn@donga.com