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Korean LPGA Tournament Attracting Tour’s Stars

Posted August. 08, 2007 03:02,   


The 2007 Hana Bank-KOLON Championship to be held this year is the only LPGA competition held in Korea. Since 2002, the tournament was known as the CJ Nine Bridges Classic until a switch in sponsorship came in 2006.

Though it is part of the LPGA Tour, for the past few years it had been overlooked by the world’s top players, making it a “game amongst Koreans.”

This year, the tournament opens at Gyeongju’s Mauna Ocean County Club, October 19, and there are many world-renowned players participating this time.

Tournament organizers reported yesterday that Lorena Ochoa (Mexico), who won her first Major title at the Women’s British Open and who is ranked number one in the world, will be competing.

This is her first LPGA tournament in Korea since taking joint-fourth place at the 2004 CJ Nine Bridges Classic three years ago.

Also competing at the Hana Bank-KOLON Championship are two more powerhouses, Suzann Pettersen (Norway) and Cristie Kerr (USA). Peterson won the McDonald’s LPGA Championship and Cristie Kerr was the champion of the U.S. Women’s Open this year.

With her fourth win this season, Ochoa has amassed $2,299,090 in prize money so far. If she continues at the same rate, Ochoa may succeed the current record in season winnings set by Annika Sorenstam ($2,863,904).

Cristie Kerr is no stranger to Korean tournaments. She participated in the Korean Women’s Open this past May, and coincidentally, it was a putter she bought during her stay in Korea that she used to get her first Major win at the U.S. Women’s Open.

Another LPGA star who will be joining in the October tournament is “Barbie Doll” Natalie Gulbis (U.S.), who recently got her first professional win at the Evian Masters after 151 tournaments.

The Hana Bank-KOLON Championship has a tradition of introducing Korean golf phenoms, such as Se-ri Pak (CJ), Shi-hyun Ahn, Grace Park (Nike Golf), Jee-young Lee (Hi-mart), and Jin-joo Hong (SK Energy). Shi-hyun Ahn, Jee-young Lee, and Jin-joo Hong made their way into the LPGA Tour after picking up wins at this tournament.

Also on the roster and aiming for a championship win are three up-and-comers who entered several competitions on the LPGA Tour this season: Ji-ai Shin (Hi-mart), Eun-hee Ji (Callaway), and Seon-ju Ahn (Hi-mart).