Posted by: happyfan08 | January 18, 2009

2008 Awards: Best Korean Finish

P & G Beauty Northwest Arkansas Championship

The Korean contingent took control of this event early, and by the final round, virtually the entire leaderboard was controlled by the Seoul Sisters.   The star of the first round was Seon Hwa Lee, who shot a 64 to set a new tournament record.  But several other Korean stars were lurking just a few shots back, including Jeong Jang, Jee Young Lee, Meena Lee and Eun Hee Ji.


Round 2 may have been the best single round for the Korean golfers as a whole all year.  Angela Park shot a blistering 62 to move to within a shot of the lead.  Meena Lee and Eun Hee Ji shot 65s to move to 12 under total and a tie for the lead.  Seon Hwa Lee shot a respectable 69 and found herself being passed by several of her compatriots.  Still, she was tied for third with Angela Park and Kristy McPherson.  And at 9 under, tied for 6th, were several more Sisters:  JJ, Jee Young Lee, Inbee Park (fresh off her Women’s Open win) and HJ Choi.  In fact, after the second round was complete, McPherson and Ai Miyazato were the only players in the entire top ten who were not Korean or of Korean heritage.  It’s hard to think of another tournament in history where the Sisters dominated so much after two rounds.


But they were far from done.  On Saturday, it had been Angela Park with the incredible 10 under score.  On Sunday, it was Jane Park’s turn to incinerate the course.  Jane shot her career low by making five birdies on each side.  This moved her into the lead, but there was still a lot of time to go.  Incredibly, though, as time went on, no one was able to move past her.  Could she get a win by coming from so far back?


In the end, Seon Hwa Lee made a clutch birdie on the 18th hole to knock off Jane, then waited while Meena Lee could not make her own birdie to force a playoff (we’ll be talking more about that confrontation a little later!).  Jane Park tied for second with Meena.  Angela Park tied for 4th, and Eun Hee Ji, Inbee Park and Na Yeon Choi all finished tied for 8th.


Seon Hwa Lee with her second trophy of the year at the P & G

Seon Hwa Lee with her second trophy of the year at the P & G

Honorable Mentions:


After the first round, five Koreans were tied for the lead at this tournament, which has traditionally been a good one for the Korean players.  Morgan Pressel and Suzann Pettersen shot 65s to take over the lead in round 2, but several Koreans were right on their tails.


In the end, the tournament came down to a battle between Pettersen and the rest of the field.  She took a three shot lead at one point, but on the back nine started making mistakes.  Meanwhile, Eun Hee Ji played like a veteran, making one brilliant putt after another.  In the end, she hunted down and passed Pettersen for her first LPGA victory.  Former Rochester champ Jeong Jang was tied for third with Hee-Won Han, with Christina Kim and Inbee Park tied for 6th.


US Women’s Open

The year’s third Major started with Ji Young Oh the surprise first round leader after shooting a 6 under par 67.  She would plunge down the leaderboard in round 2, but Angela Park took her place, the second straight year she had the lead after 36 holes.


After three rounds, however, two Americans moved into the lead.  One was LPGA star Paula Creamer, the other amateur star Stacy Lewis in her first ever professional event.  Inbee Park, with her third straight under par round, moved to 7 under, just two shots back.  In Kyung Kim moved to 5 under, four shots back, and Mi Hyun Kim was three shots back.  Angela Park had a 75 on day three but was still only five shots out of the lead.


In the end, it was the brilliant play of Inbee Park that captured the day, as she cruised to her first ever Major victory.  Angela Park and In-Kyung Kim were two more second year players to finish on the leaderboard, tied for third, while Mi Hyun Kim finished in 6th.  It was one of the best performances for the Koreans in a Major.


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