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Song Aree Hits the Peak "Sweet 18"

Posted March. 26, 2004 22:36,   


"The single leader of the group is AS. Not Annika Sorenstam, but Aree Song.”

The United States golf commentator concluded live coverage of the first round of the season’s first LPGA major opener, the Kraft Nabisco Championship (Prize money: $1.6 million), by saying so.

Super rookie Song Aree (18, Bean Pole Golf, photo) led the group (6 under par, 66) with bogie-less perfect play as she sunk 6 birdies in the first round at California’s Ranch Mission Hills Country Club (par 72) on March 26.

Could Song Aree hold the title as the youngest player to do so in the LPGA history? The previous youngest player to capture a title was made by Sandra Post (USA) at the age of 20 years and 19 days in 1968. Considering Song has passed Major records and her present condition, a championship doesn`t seem that impossible.

First, it seemed impressive when Song passed through serious situations with stable short game tactics. Especially the moment when her tee shot at the ninth hole (par 5) fell into the rough after the ball hit a tree, and barely made 4-on with a lay-up. She patiently putted and saved par as Song maintained her strength to swing upwards. At the second hole (par 5), her third shot sunk in the bunker but she finished off the hole with a birdie.

Also, Song Aree plays her best in every Major competition. She qualified for the fifth straight time in the Nabisco championships. In 2000, she finished tied for 10th place at the Mission Hills. Song makes harmony on this particular course.

Meanwhile, Annika Sorenstam, who is making a bid to win four Grand Slam titles in a single season, ended up tied for 18th place with a 1 under par, 71, and Pak Se-Ri (CJ) who is aiming to tag herself as the youngest grand slam winner in LPGA history, finished tied for 36th place (even par, 72) while recording 6 bogies and birdies respectively, as the two players ended the first round.

"Golf Prodigy" Michelle Wie (14), who ended tied for ninth place with the lowest score in amateur history last year, stood tied for seventh place (3 under par, 69) that evening with Lee Jung-yeon (Korea Tires) as she showed formidable talent.

Young-Sik Ahn ysahn@donga.com