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Young South Korean Golfer SooYun Kang

September's Feature is South Korean Golfer Soo-Yun Kang

photo Seoulsisters.com

Name: Soo-Yun Kang
It's pronounced: Soo Yun Kahng
English Name: None
Birthday: March 15, 1976
Home City: Seoul, South Korea (a real Seoul Sister!)

American Home City: None
Rookie Year on LPGA: 2001
LPGA Wins: 1 (2005 Safeway Classic)
LPGA Majors: 0
Best Major Finish: T-8th (2004 LPGA Championship)
Rookie of the year finish: Finished far back
Height: 5' 7"
Family: At least one sister
Best score: 64

Best Scoring Average for a year: 71.05 (2003)
Best Season money total: $710,710 (2005)
Best Season Money Position: 14th (2005)
Most Top Tens/Season: 6 (2003, 2005)
2006 LPGA Status: Exempt
Strong Statistics: Sand Saves, Putting
Nicknames: The Fashion Model of the Fairways
Other Sports: None
Hobbies: Listening to music
Sponsors: Beanpole Golf, Woori Financial Services
Why she might become a Seoul Sister: Soo-Yun has been one of the top Korean players on the KLPGA tour for several years. She is fashionable, attractive, very talented and exciting to watch.

How's her English?: Pretty good
Best part of her game: Putting, play around the greens
Needs to work on: Consistency
Cool possible headlines: 'Soo-Yun Won!'

Soo-Yun started playing golf at the age of 12. Her biggest splash as an amateur came at the 1996 World Championship, which she won. She then turned pro, and focused her playing in Korea on the KLPGA, although she did play international events from time to time. By and large, her results in Korea have been very impressive. She has won numerous tournaments there, and has finished atop the KLPGA money list on several occasions. Even when not the best player in the league, she has been in the top three, as she was in 2002. She has also impressed many by beating formidable competitors in Korean events, including Annika Sorenstam, Karrie Webb, Se Ri Pak and Laura Davies.

Soo-Yun also became known for her fashion sense. Impeccably dressed in striking, sometimes daring clothes that looked great on her model-like body, Soo-Yun gained the nickname 'The Fashion Model of the Fairways' in Korea. Soo-Yun decided to come to the LPGA, but was only able to get non-exempt status for the 2001 season. In her rookie season she only played three events, missing the cut in two of them and finishing tied for 42nd in the third. I suspect she was not able to get into a lot of fields due to her status. Korean players, even great ones, tend to take about a dozen events to hit their stride in the States, and Kang never got the chance to do that in 2001. So she returned to Korea, where she again played well on the KLPGA.

photo Seoulsisters.com

photo seoulsisters.com

photo Seoulsisters.com

Kangs Winning Titles
Safeway Classic
1 win
6 top tens
14th on money list ($710,710)

0 wins
3 top tens
45th on money list ($260,608)

0 wins
6 top tens
33rd on money list ($363,341)

0 wins
0 top tens
186th on money list ($3,776)

In 2002, she tried again at Q-School. This time she made an exempt card with little trouble, finishing tenth. Her 2003 season was an excellent one: she managed six top tens, including a second place finish at the Takefuji Classic, during which she was in contention almost the entire way. She put herself in contention a couple more times, but had a prolonged slump in the middle of the season. Towards the end she climbed out of that and had several more chances to win, including a strong performance at the Safeway Classic.

Soo-Yun easily set career bests in several categories during 2003, and finished 33rd on the money list. She was even featured in an article in ESPN the Magazine highlighting the 'Next Players', meaning the athletes in different sports that we can expect to see as stars in the near future (actually, I was the one who nominated her for this honor after the article's author asked me for an opinion of which Korean player on tour might be one to watch!! So prove me right, Soo-Yun!).

2004 proved to be a minor step back for Soo-Yun. She did not manage quite as many top tens or good performances as in 2003. She did have her best Major performance to date at the LPGA Championship, but even there, she looked primed to have a great performance, but slipped back on the final day. Nonetheless, she still easily maintained her exempt status on tour, and got another valuable year of experience in America.

Soo-Yun struggled with consistency early in 2005. She had a couple of good performances, but seemed mired in the same slump she had been in since joining the LPGA. Everything changed one week in Portland. She played brilliantly at the Safeway Classic, winning in convincing fashion for her first ever tour victory. From that point to the end of the season, she had one solid finish after another; even a wrist injury only slowed her a little. As a result, she was not only named to the Pinx Cup team at the end of the year, she was made the Captain. She wound up finishing 14th on the money list, by far her best season to date. If she can play in 2006 the whole year the way she played at the end of 2005, this might be only the beginning.

All text and photos www.seoulsisters.com

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