Korean golfers, LPGA, succès factors, parents' devotion, self-tolerance, Confucian values, USGA, company sponsorship
FLOOD OF WINS BY KOREAN WOMEN GOLFERS IN 2009
The international community has been astounded by a flood of wins by Korean women golfers on the 2009 Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour. Attention on the success of Korean golfers reached a peak when three Korean golfers grabbed successive LPGA titles in June and July 2009: Shin Ji-Yai took the Wegmans LPGA trophy on June 28; Yi Eun-Jung won the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic on July 5; and Ji Eun-Hee took home the US Women's Open, a major title, on July 12. The winning streak continued as Korean women won the P&G Beauty NW Arkansas Championship (Shin Ji-Yai, September 13), Samsung World Championship (Choi Na-Yeon, September 20), Hana Bank · KOLON Championship (Choi Na-Yeon, November 1) and the Mizuno Classic (Song Bo-Bae, November 8). In addition, Michelle Wie, a US national of Korean ethnic origin, won the Lorena Ochoa Invitational on November 16. Both Korean and international media wrote detailed accounts of their play, praising their astounding abilities and persistence. In particular, CNN's "Living Golf program featured Korea's golf culture and the secret behind the success of its players in a special corner.
HISTORY OF KOREAN PERFORMANCES AT THE LPGA
Korean golfers first began to make a name for themselves on the LPGA tour when Ku Ok-Hee, currently Vice Chairman of the Korea Ladies Professional Golf Association (KLPGA), became the first Korean player to win on this Tour at the Standard Register Ping Golf Tournament in 1988. With Ku having paved the way, it was Pak Se-Ri who launched the Korean wave in earnest when, in 1998, she notched her first win just seven months after her professional debut and won a total of four victories that year, setting off a golf craze in Korea. Pak's famous barefoot shot to win the US Open in 1998, in the midst of the Asian financial crisis, became a symbol of hope for Koreans who were disheartened by the country's IMF-led bailout. So far, Pak has a total of 24 wins as of today and was inducted into the LPGA Hall of Fame in November 2007.
In just over a decade since Pak's debut, Korean women have racked up a total of 76 wins (77 in total), placing Korea in second place among all countries with players on the LPGA Tour since its foundation in 1950. There is no doubt that Korea has in a short time established itself as a global golf powerhouse. Notably, while most countries' wins are accounted for by a small number of players, Korea's wins are shared by a relatively large number of winners. For example, Lorena Ochoa accounts for all of Mexico's 27 titles, while Laura Davies claimed twenty of Britain's 24 total victories. By contrast, a total of 27 Korean players have won tournaments, with Pak having won 24 titles and 26 more female golfers also grabbing at least one title.
Moreover, the future of Korean women's golf is considered to be very bright by experts and fans alike, given the large pipeline of young stars that have followed Pak's footsteps. Kim MiHy un, a part of the troika along with Pak and Park Ji-Eun, won eight titles in various tournaments including the State Farm Rail Classic, raising Korea's high-profile. Park Ji-Eun also played a role in laying a foundation for the growth of Korean women's golf by grabbing a total of six wins, including a major, the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
The Korean-American golfer, Michelle Wie, also played an important role in building the positive image of Korean golfers. Besides her astonishing golfing talent, Wie has a good command of English, Japanese, and Chinese, and has cultivated a wide network of acquaintances including foreign players and fans, all of which has helped to draw global attention on Korean golfers. In particular, her ability to hit the ball as long as many male professional …