▲ Korean-American rookie LPGA golfer, top and bottom photos, wows the crowd, but finishes out of the money at the recent MBC Tour Lotte Mart Women’s Open held at Sky Hills Jeju Country Club. Photos by Brian Miller
Jeju is quickly becoming one of the best places to golf in Korea. With a wide variety of courses, it's no surprise that Jeju has hosted many tournaments.
Most recently, April 15-17, the Sky Hills Jeju Country Club hosted the KLPGA's MBC Tour Lotte Mart Women's Open, with 108 players.
While many in attendance came to see 22-year-old Korean-American rookie LPGA golfer Michelle Wie, she finished a distant 36th place overall. Korean golfer Hee Kyung Seo took home the winner’s trophy.
With a 300 million won purse dividing among the top 66 finishers, the Women's Open brought in many of the leading players in the KLPGA as well as many of its prospective players, to play the par 72 and 6,330 yard course.
While Wie was greeted at Jeju International Airport by a throng of media and officials bearing Jeju gifts, her star status did not translate to the links.
During the first round of play, Wie birdied her first hole and parred her second. Soon after she encountered bunker trouble on her approach to the third green, but that was only the beginning. After teeing off on the fourth hole, Wie temporarily lost her ball in the bushes. She was forced to take her next shot off the cart path, and landed in another bunker mid-fairway, earning a double bogey on the hole.
Remaining calm, she regained her focus and acted quickly on the next four holes. She kept par and even got a couple chances to birdie again, eventually earning another birdie on the 9th hole. She finished the round with a 77, five over par. The lead after the first round was a group of six players: Soo Jin Yang, Seon Hwa Lee, Ji Na Lim, Eun Bi Jang, Ji Hye Jang, and Hae Won Jung, all tied at 70, 2 under par.
Wie blamed her poor performance in part on Mt. Halla. Seems the golf course, on the slopes of Hallasan, has a “Mysterious Road affect.” Because of the subtle downward slope, what looks like a flat green actually is not. Wie claimed that the geographic anamoly affected her putting.
The Stanford University sophomore made a reported $19 million USD last year, but her game has not been up to par of late, and she was recently dropped by her major sponsor, the Sony Corporation.
When all was said and done, Hee Kyung Seo took home the title with an impressive final round of 67 and a score of six under par. Runners up were Sun Ju Ahn and Il Hee Lee, tied at five under par.
Wie fared better on her second day and in the third round, managing a 75 and 71, but was unable to break into the lead, and finished in 36th overall.
Jeju has been good to winner Hee, however. Just last November she took home first place in the inaugural Saint Four Ladies Masters.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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