“It was a great opportunity to play in an LPGA tournament and I’m glad I did.”
That’s how 16-year-old amateur Seo Jin Park, a third-grader at Seomun Girls’ Middle School, described her excitement after shooting a 5-under-par round to finish tied for 16th on the first day of the U.S. Professional Golf (PGA) Tour’s BMW Ladies Championship ($2.2 million purse).
Park, playing on the Korean Golf Association (KGA) recommendation, carded a 4-under 68 with five birdies and one bogey in the first round at Seowon Hills (par-72, 6468 yards) in Paju, Gyeonggi Province on Monday. When asked if he found the course challenging, he said, “I missed a few driver shots, but my score wasn’t particularly good,” adding, “I’ll try to hit it better tomorrow.”
“Before the match, I said to myself, ‘Don’t fall into bunkers,’ and I did. But she didn’t lose any strokes from there and made par. Park’s tee shot was a whopping 268 yards, she made 31 putts and only missed two out of 18 greens.
The second stop on the Asian Swing is a major event with nine of the top 10 women’s golfers in the world and 68 of the top 10 on the LPGA Tour. Of the remaining 10 players, six are members of the LPGA Tour, but four are amateurs nominated by the KGA and the Gyeonggi Golf Association.
Until two years ago, the tournament featured all of the top ranked players from the Korean Ladies Professional Golf Association (KLPGA), making up more than half of the field, but as of last year, the KLPGA declared the tournament “unsanctioned” and banned its players from competing. So the tournament organizers invited LPGA Tour members who were not eligible to compete, as well as Shin Ji-ae, who plays on the Japan Ladies Golf Tour (JLPGA).
Four spots were also allocated for amateur players who are aspiring golfers. Last year, Kim Min-sol was one of the two nominated amateurs and battled for the title until the final day. This year, Park Seo-jin won the Blue One Bae Korea Junior Golf Championship and the Kakao VX Mae Kyung Amateur Golf Championship and entered the tournament ranked sixth in the KGA rankings.안전놀이터
At the end of the day, she received the happy news that she had become a member of the national team. Park, who started playing golf at the age of 7 and is now 10 years old, said her dream is to play on the LPGA Tour. The professionals she played with were 12-time LPGA Tour winner Kim Se-young and Alban Valenzuela (Switzerland), and she said it was especially nice to play with Kim, whom she has always liked.
In the second round, Park will tee off on the first hole at 9:26 a.m. in a group with Hyo Joo Kim (28) and Brooke Henderson (Canada), a senior national team member and six-time winner on the LPGA Tour this year. If Park plays well over the next three rounds and wins the tournament, she’ll get her dream ticket to the LPGA Tour.
Ashley Buhai (South Africa) leads the field on day one with a 10-under 62 after carding 10 birdies without a bogey. Korean-American Alison Lee is second at 9-under, while Lee Min-ji (AUS) and Ayaka Furue (JPN) are tied for third at 8-under. Among the South Koreans, rookie Hae Ran Lee (22) is tied for fifth at 7-under. Kim Hyo-joo and Lee Jung-six are tied for 16th with Park Seo-jin.
Seo Ji-eun, who was recommended by the KGA, shot 1-under par and is tied for 50th place with fellow Gyeonggi-do amateur Oh Soo-min. Fellow amateur Yoon Da-bin is in last place at 6-over par.
The 28th event on the LPGA Tour and the second of the Asian Swing will be broadcast live for six hours from 10 a.m. on Sept. 20 on JTBC Golf.