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Han Hee-won Gets Her First LPGA Win of the Year

Posted October. 05, 2005 07:18,   


Golfer Han Hee-won (27, Fila Korea) was able to give something special to her father-in-law on his birthday: her first win of the season.

The remaining holes of the final round of the Office Depot Championship (Total Prize Money 1.3 million dollars) at the Trump National Golf Club (Par 71) in Rancho Palos Verdes, nearby Los Angeles, were played and completed on October 4.

Han Hee-won, who stood at one-under par for the championship, held the lead through the first eight holes before play was postponed at sunset yesterday. Han, adding three birdies to her tally without a single bogey, finished at 12-under-par 201 to collect her winnings of 195,000 dollars.

The win ended her long championship drought and was her first victory this season and the fourth of her LPGA career. She had recorded seven top-10 finishes out of the 21 tournaments she entered this year up until this point.

This win means a lot to Han.

Since marrying ex-pro baseball player Sohn Hyuk on December 2003, Han was unable to fulfill her role as daughter-in-law due to her busy tour schedule in the United States. “I am even more delighted to be able to present my trophy to my father-in-law, who is too far away to visit,” she said.

Han has proved that marriage is not an obstacle in the LPGA tour, collecting titles for two consecutive years. Her first was the championship of the Safeway Classic in 2004, which was held a year after her marriage.

Her victory marks the 50th title captured by a Korean in the LPGA tournament, a feat that has taken 17 years, since Ku Ok-hee (49) recorded the first Korean win at an American LPGA tour in 1988 at the Standard Register tournament.

Han, unlike some other players, was able to properly finish the first two rounds, which helped her maintain her rhythm. Armed with a superb iron shot that never missed the green through the 10 holes starting from hole No. 9, Han clinched the trophy comfortably without any real challenges.

Kang Soo-yun (Samsung Electronics) finished as runner-up, shooting a daily best five-under 66 in the final round and finishing alone at 10-under-par 203. For the 11th time on the U.S. LPGA tour, Koreans shared first and second place.

“Golf Empress” Annika Sorenstam, who went for her fourth title at the tournament, could only finish at one-under-par in the final round, tying for ninth place (four-under-par 209) with other players such as Kim Mi-hyun (KTF).

Han will enter the Longs Drugs Challenge this week in pursuit of two-week back-to-back tour victories, and plans to return to Korea on October 11 to play in the KLPGA Meritz Securities Classic Tournament (October 14-16, Hanil CC) as well as the 2005 CJ Nine Bridges Classic (October 27-30) held in Jeju.

Young-Sik Ahn ysahn@donga.com