Posted by: happyfan08 | January 21, 2009

2008 Awards: Biggest Diss

Eun Hee Ji blamed for English only policy

One of the saddest footnotes of the ‘English Only’ brouhaha came when a golf writer (it may have been Ron Sirak, in which case take it with a grain of salt; see below for more) revealed that the policy was in part inspired after Eun Hee Ji won the Rochester tournament in June.  Apparently, the sponsors were so upset that Ji could not thank them in English that they complained to the LPGA, and commissioner Bivens decided that enough was enough, something needed to be done.


Call me skeptical about this.  I have seen videos of the trophy ceremony at the tournament, and though Ji did not speak much English (she did speak a little), everyone attending thoroughly enjoyed her reaction and gratitude.  She even cracked them up with a joke.  She seems to be pretty entertaining in the photos of the post round press conferences as well.  But if this was in fact the primary reason that misguided policy was proposed, what a sad way to treat a great young champion who has been trying as hard as anyone to learn the language.  A player who, though a second year player, had only played a few events in 2007 as a non-exempt golfer.  Technically, this really was her first year in the country, meaning she had been here full time less than six months when she was expected to make like Johnny Carson at a Friar’s Roast. 


Eun Hee Ji after round 3 at the Wegman's Rochester LPGA

Eun Hee Ji after round 3 at the Wegman's Rochester LPGA




I’ve seen some pathetic things in terms of the ways the Koreans sometimes get treated, but that one takes the cake.


Honorable Mention

Ron Sirak Credits Annika for inspiring Korean golf revolution

This one was jaw dropping.  Ji Yai Shin’s brilliant win at the Women’s British Open marked the second straight time a Korean golfer directly influenced by Se Ri Pak won a Major in 2008.  What an amazing trend!  The first ‘Se Ri Kid’ who collected a Major in ’08, Inbee Park, even admitted that she started playing golf mere days after watching Se Ri win that same event ten years earlier.  It’s not often that there is such a clear causal link between a hero and those who admire her.


But this was Annika’s last Major, dammit, and they weren’t about to let any storyline go by without mentioning her.  At the end of the event, the network interviewed golf writer Ron Sirak, who made the jaw dropping statement that Annika had had as much influence on the Korean golfers as Pak.  So much for giving Pak credit where it was due.


Annika has had a big influence on women’s golf.  There are many things you can credit her for.  But to make a statement like that either betrays shocking ignorance or a willingness to snub a Korean Hall of Famer that borders on the cruel and unusual.


Most Dominating Performance

Ji Yai Shin, Mizuno Classic

Ji Yai Shin had already won a Major on the LPGA tour, and a tournament on the JLPGA tour, when she arrived at the Mizuno Classic, an event co-sanctioned by those two tours, in November.  So without any doubt, she was one of the favorites in the field.  But even by her standards, it proved to be an easy win.  She got out to a great start, shooting a 68 in round 1 to finish just a shot out of the lead.  But it was round two where she made her big move.  She shot a fantastic 66 to move to 10 under total and a two shot lead.  This is still a pretty small lead, though, and there was every reason to believe Shin still had a lot of work ahead of her.


But as it turned out, round three, the final round, was a stroll in the park for her.  She quickly grabbed a big lead, and no one came even close to challenging her the rest of the way.  She waltzed off with a 6 shot win, the biggest of the year for her.


Ji Yai Shin wins her second LPGA event of the year at the Mizuno Classic

Ji Yai Shin wins her second LPGA event of the year at the Mizuno Classic




Honorable Mentions:

Ji Yai Shin in Majors

This year was a fantastic year for Ji Yai Shin in Major tournaments all over the world.  She not only swept the KLPGA Majors, the first player to ever do that, she also won an LPGA Major, the British Women’s Open.  In addition, she finished second at two JLPGA Majors, losing one in a playoff and the other with a bogey on the final hole (to fellow Korean Hyun Ju Shin!).  Ji Yai was so close to becoming the first woman to ever win Majors on three different tours in the same year, but she’ll have to settle for the four Major titles and two runner ups she did get.


Most Surprising Result

No veteran Korean wins on tour in 2008

Jeong Jang had several chances to collect a trophy.  Hee-Won Han nearly shot a 59.  And though Mi Hyun Kim was not at her best, she, too, contended several times.  Yet by the end of 2008, no Korean older than 25 had won a tournament all season.  Barring injury, you have to think that is a result that will not soon be repeated.


Honorable Mentions:

Ji Young Oh topples Yani Tseng for first win

Eun Hee Ji catches and passes Pettersen for her first win in Rochester




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