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South Korean Golfing Sensation Hee Won Hahn

photo Seoulsisters.com

Name: Hee-Won Han
It's pronounced: Hee Wahn Hahn
English Name: None
Birthday: June 10, 1978
Home City: Seoul, South Korea (a real Seoul Sister!)

American Home City: San Diego, CA
Rookie Year on LPGA: 2001
LPGA Wins: 4
LPGA Majors: 0 (Best finish: Tied for 6th at 2006 Kraft Nabisco Championship)
Rookie of the year finish: Won!
Height: 5' 7"
Family: Husband Son Hyuk
Best score: 62 (2005 Corning Classic)
Best Scoring Average for a year: 70.80 (2004)
Best Season money total: $1,111,860 (2003)
Best Season Money Position: 4th (2003)
Most Top Tens/Season: 11 (2003,2005)
2006 LPGA Status: Exempt
Strong Statistics: Putting
Nicknames: None that I know of!
Other Sports: None
Hobbies: None I know of!
Sponsors: Fila Korea

How's her English?: Getting better; she now speaks English to reporters.
Best part of her game: Hee-Won is fairly consistent all around, with a good short game.
Needs to work on: Surprisingly short off the tee.
Cool possible headlines: 'Hee-Won: She Won!'; 'Who won? Hee-Won!'

In 2000, she came over to America to try her luck on the LPGA. She finished 27th at Q-School, only good enough for conditional status on the LPGA. Despite this, she did very well in the Rookie of the Year race, Monday qualifying for tournaments an impressive 7 of 11 attempts in 2001. She ended up with four top twenties and a top ten that year and won the Rookie of the Year award, the only player that I know of to have won the award both on the LPGA and the JLPGA. Her 70th place finish on the money list gave her an exempt card for 2002; no more Monday qualifying!

Why she is a Seoul Sister: The top ranked Korean player outside of the 'Big Three', she's been remarkably consistent since joining the LPGA. She also has the Rookie of the Year award,and two big wins.

In 2006 Hee Won Han continues to play solid and has recorded five-straight top-five finishes in 2006 season, including a win for the LPGA Corning Classic and tie for second place at Michelob ULTRA and Sybase Classic

Hee-Won started playing golf at the age of nine. As an amateur she recorded 48 victories, including the 1996 World Amateur Golf Championship. She turned pro in 1998, choosing to focus on the Japanese LPGA tour rather than the KLPGA (she is fluent in Japanese). There she managed to win the Rookie of the Year award, the same year Se Ri Pak won the Rookie of the Year award on the American LPGA (it was a good year for Korea!). She played on the JLPGA for several more years, in 1999 managing two victories and finishing fifth on the money list

Hee Won Han

photo seoulsisters.com

photo seoulsisters.com

2004 got off to a slow start for Hee-Won. In fact, it was not until mid-season that she started to pick up good finishes. But as usually happens with her, she got on a roll in late summer, and won her only event of the year in September at the Safeway Classic. She once again finished the year in the top ten, this time 8th on the money list. The 2005 season was much the same: she collected another win, had a few more good chances to win, and ended up tying her career best of 11 top tens on the year.

As good as her rookie year was, though, it was 2002 where Hee-Won really made a name for herself. Her first big success came at the Longs Drugs Challenge, where she was among the top leaders, but still several shots back of Cristie Kerr, until Kerr made a few mistakes and, stunningly, Han suddenly moved into a tie for the lead. Alas, a mishit drive on the 18th hole cost her a bogey and a one shot loss to Kerr, but the second place finish was by far her best on the LPGA. She followed that up with several more top finishes, and at the Big Apple Classic, playing against fellow Korean Gloria Park and World #1 Annika Sorenstam, Hee-Won came from behind to grab a share of the lead with Park and force an all Korean playoff. In fact, Hee-Won even had a short putt to win it outright on 18, but missed it and had to settle for the playoff. Once there, Gloria won, but it was a second second place finish for Hee-Won. Just the next week, Hee-Won found herself again just one shot out of the lead (behind Seoul Sister Mi Hyun) at the Wendy's Championship, after Peanut put her tee shot on 17 into the water, but again, Hee-Won fell just short of catching Mi Hyun, finishing second again. Hee-Won had one more chance to shine, moving her way relentlessly up the ladder at the Cisco World Match Play championship. But in the semifinals she lost to Japanese player Midori Yoneyama, when Yoneyama came from behind, tied her at 18, then beat her in extra holes. Had she won that match she would have played Seoul Sister Grace for yet another chance at her first victory.

2003 proved to be an even better year for Han. After finishing third at the Safeway Ping, she seized an early lead at the LPGA Championship, but faltered on the weekend. Then, she returned to the Sybase Big Apple Classic, and this time squeezed out the win, her first on the LPGA. This started a string of great performances, which included another win at the Wendy's, a second place at the Jamie Farr, and another second place at the Evian Masters. All of this resulted in her career best finish on the money list, 4th, and her first time breaking a million dollars in earnings for a single season.

Hee-Won finished the year by marrying her beau, pro baseball pitcher Hyuk Son. The marriage of two famous athletes was a first for Korea, and it greatly raised Hee-Won's profile in the Korean press.

In 2006 Hee Won Han continues to play solid and has recorded five-straight top-five finishes in 2006 season, including a win for the LPGA Corning Classic and tie for second place at Michelob ULTRA and Sybase Classic

All text and pictures by Eric Fleming at www.seoulsisters.com

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