Posted by: happyfan08 | January 8, 2015

2014 SeoulSisters Awards (5 of 7): Controversy and Happy Moments

Most Controversial Moment

And the Winner Is: Chella Choi DQed for improper placement of ball, Canadian Pacific Women’s Open

Chella Choi putts during round 2 in Canada

Chella Choi was struggling to make the cut on day two of last season’s Canadian Pacific Women’s Open. On the final hole, she picked up her ball in preparation of making a short, trivial one foot par save. She then replaced the ball and made the putt. But, she did not place the ball exactly from where she had lifted it. This was caught on TV, and she was assessed a two-stroke penalty. This was enough to cause her to miss the cut by a shot. However, Choi refused to accept the penalty and was disqualified.

From reviewing the video, her replacement of the ball happens so quickly, and is on such a short putt, that it is difficult to believe that it was caused by anything other than carelessness on her part. However, some who watched believed this was ‘proof’ thatChoi was cheating, and that she should have been penalized more severely. The fact that she didn’t accept the penalty, they claimed, made it seem even more fishy.Personally, I believe it was an accident, and that she chose not to accept the penalty because she probably believed that it would be admitting she cheated, which she did not intentionally do. Ironically, by not accepting the penalty, it looked to many like she was indirectly confessing that very thing.

At the end of the year, the LPGA players voted Choi the recipient of the William and Mousie Powell award, given to a player who best exemplifies the spirit of the LPGA. Obviously the players did not believe Choi was a cheater either, or they would not have given her that award! But doubtless there are blogs somewhere where the writers are questioning that gesture as well.

Chella Choi won last year’s William and Mousie Powell award

Happiest News

And the Winner Is: Inbee Park Marries her longtime beau

One of Inbee Park’s wedding photos

Inbee Park finally married her swing coach and longtime fiancé Gi Hyeob Nam the Monday before the KEB Hana Bank Championship. So Yeon Ryu, In Kyung Kim, Na Yeon Choi and Ji Young Oh served as her four bridesmaids. Just a couple of days after the nuptials, Inbee was competing at the tournament! And she played great, coming within one missed birdie putt of the playoff won by Kyu Jung Baek. No win for Inbee, but you have to think it was a pretty happy week for her nonetheless!

Inbee’s Bridesmaids: (L to R): IK Kim, So Yeon Ryu, Ji Young Oh, and Na Yeon Choi.

Other Nominees: Hee Kyung Seo Becomes a mommy

Hee Kyung Seo with her son

Hee Kyung Seo married her beau at the end of last year and got to work on starting a family right away! She took half the 2014 season off and had her first child, a boy. Congratulations to her, and we’re all looking forward to seeing her return to the tour in 2015!

Soo Jin Yang and her KPGA boyfriend

Soo Jin Yang and boyfriend Sung Hyuk Kim

The biggest new romance story of the season came when it was revealed that KLPGA star Soo Jin Yang was dating KPGA star Sung Hyuk Kim. Kim had his best season in 2014, topping the KPGA’s money list and winning three season ending awards. He credited his relationship with Yang as a big reason for his newfound happiness and success (interestingly, Yang had one of her worst seasons on the KLPGA in 2014, although it still wasn’t all that bad).

Congratulations to them both, best of wishes in the future, and here’s hoping Soo Jin will turn it around in 2015 like Kim did in 2014!

Most Touching Moment

And the Winner Is: the Retirements of JJ, Hee Won Han and Kyeong Bae

Jeong Jang (left) and Hee Won Han

Three veteran Korean golfers folded their tents and called it a career in 2014.

Jeong Jang and Hee Won Han were two of the last holdouts from the original wave of Korean stars that hit the golf world in the late nineties and early 2000s. Jang joined the LPGA in 2000 and pretty quickly became a force on tour. In 2005, she had her biggest win when she faced down Annika Sorentam to win the British Women’s Open, her only career Major. She would go on to win once more in Rochester the following year. At that tournament, she forged a lasting bond with the American veterans of the Korean War; each year during the tournament week, she would donate money to their group and pay respects at a Rochester-area memorial for them.

Hee Won Han joined the LPGA in 2001 and won that year’s Rookie of the Year, the third Korean to capture that award. Over the next few years, Han won six times, although she never won a Major. Han made a kind of Korean golf history when she became the first of her generation to get married and have children. She is also one of the few married Korean golfers to win a tournament after getting hitched. Jang also got married and had a child, and it is their wish to spend more time with their families that caused them to wind down their careers at this time.

Interestingly, they both retired the same day, playing their final round at the Portland Classic in September.

Kyeong Bae

Kyeong Bae has been a professional golfer since she was 15 years old. She played on the KLPGA for several years, then moved to the LPGA for several more before returning to the KLPGA to finish her career. She got married last year, and this coupled with her diminishing success on tour led to her decision.

We’ll miss you ladies!

Biggest Bummer

And the winner Is: Jiyai Shin Quits the LPGA

Jiyai Shin in December, 2014

The 2014 LPGA season started with a shocker: all of a sudden, Jiyai Shin was no longer listed as one of the tour’s players on their site. She did not show up for her early season title defense at the Australian Women’s Open. What happened?

Shin decided to resign from the LPGA and move to Japan to play full-time on the JLPGA. Her official reason seems to be that all her family is in Korea and Japan and she wanted to be near them. Another reason might have been that her longtime sponsorship with Mirae Asset ended in 2014, and perhaps it was too expensive to maintain an LPGA lifestyle without a sponsor’s help.

Her decision to move to Japan was a good one: she won four times and finished fourth on the tour’s money list. But it’s also disappointing. To be frank, it feels a bit like Shin is slumming when she plays the JLPGA. She is a world-class player with 11 LPGA victories, two of which are Majors. She needs to be competing against the best in the world.

One thing that was a bit odd about the whole thing, besides the silence of the LPGA tour on the matter, was that Shin chose to return her card immediately. Other players have chosen to play other tours in the past, but they allowed their cards to lapse naturally. Kyeong Bae, for instance, returned to Korea a few years ago, but her LPGA tour card still allowed her to play on the LPGA tour for another full year before it expired had she wanted to (as it turned out, she didn’t). Shin, however, instantly lost all playing privileges on the LPGA when she went back to Japan. It gave the impression that there was bad blood between her and the LPGA, although it’s hard to believe a good-natured player like Shin would ever harbor a grudge against anyone.

She also did appear in a few LPGA Majors and the Hana Bank Championship last year, so it’s not like she completely disappeared from the scene.

Continued good luck to Shin on the Japanese tour, but here’s hoping she changes her mind and returns to the LPGA tour sometime before her career ends!

Jiyai Shin

Best Victory Celebration

And the Winner Is: In Gee Chun, Chosun Ilbo-Bosco Championship

After the popular player In Gee Chun won the final event of the KLPGA’s 2014 season, her friends drenched her in artificial snow instead of the usual water or champagne. They got her good!

In Gee Chun gets a winner’s bath in artificial snow!

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