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Strong-Willed 19 Year Old Girl Picks up a Star

Posted November. 02, 2003 22:44,   


Cinderella didn’t miss a chance to come to her luckily at the end.

She was leading uneasily by only one stroke. Her second shot with a 6-iron from 165 yards away landed two meters left of the pin, with a big cry from the gallery, shouting “Wow!” on the 18th hole (par 5). She hit the ball softly with her putter and knocked it into the hole, scoring an eagle. The girl on the green smiled brightly for the first time and raised her arms. This was the moment in which a miraculous drama was completed. The heroine was a “wonderful teenager” Ahn Shi-hyun. (19, Kolon)

It was the final 3rd round of the CJ Nine Bridge Classic (total prize of $1.25 million) of the U.S. LPGA tour, which opened at Club Nine Bridge (par 72), Jejudo on November 2.

Ahn Shi-hyun, a rookie who jumped into the domestic female’s pro-golf league this year, marked a 4-under par score, with one eagle, five birdies, and three bogeys today, and ended the tournament with a total 12-under par to gain her first career championship including both domestic and international. It was an impressive and unexpected victory in which she pushed veterans Pak Se-ri (CJ), Park Ji-eun (Nike Golf), Park Hee-jung (CJ), and Laura Davis (U.K.) with 9-under par score out to the co-second place. The winning prize was $187,500 (about 220 million won), which is almost is twice the sum of her career earnings of 120 million won.

It is the second case, since Ko U-soon won a Torray Japan Queen’s Cup in Japan in 1994, that a non-member such as Ahn Shi-hyun earned a victory on the U.S. tour, which started in 1950.

Moreover, her performance, in which she kept her lead for three straight days, was outstanding. She received an invitation, which is given to the top 12 golfers because of her 4th place in prize ranking of domestic tour, and was able to join the “dream” U.S. tour without any other qualifications. Ahn Shi-hyun received the first place of the U.S. tour conditional seed next season with this victory and will be able join in all the competitions, and also receive a full seed for the 2005 season, guaranteeing to make her land the U.S. tour of her dream.

Ahn Shi-hyun, competing against Pak Se-ri and Davis in the champion group that day, went forward smoothly by lowering two strokes in the first half without any trouble. But she was chased in the second half when her tee shot fell into bunker and bogeyed with 3-on and a 2-putt to mark 10-under par and ahead by only one stroke. However, she had no fear since she said it was an honor just to participate. She managed to save a difficult par at the 17th hole (par 3) and eagled at 18th hole to perform a fantastic finale.

The depending champion, Pak Se-ri, reduced her score by four strokes and took second place, but it was beyond her capacity to calm down the strong blast of Ahn Shi-hyun. “Koala” Park Hee-jung (CJ) marked the course record, making 10 birdies without a bogey, to make a sharp increase for her standing.

Jong-Seok Kim kjs0123@donga.com