|Volume 4, Number 11, December 13, 2006|
Fairways and Greens
Hee-Won Han expecting her first child
Last month, Hee-Won announced that she is about to become a pioneer in another way. She and her husband told the world that Hee-Won is pregnant with her first child, which is due in July of next year. Hee-Won will doubtless take several months off around the time of the birth to take care of the baby. But her exact plans are still unclear. Will she take the entire season off? Or will she play for a few months while pregnant before stopping? Several LPGA golfers have done this in the past, but it's never happened to one of the top Korean stars before. What she does might once again become a template for the other great golfers of her generation to follow.
As well, no one has yet uttered the R word (retirement), but she has not yet made clear what her plans will be once the baby arrives. Things have been made more complicated by the fact that her husband is coming out of retirement to play on an American Minor league baseball team, in the hopes of advancing to the Majors. Whereas Hee-Won has been the bread winner the past few years, the tables will turn 100% as Sonny brings home the bacon for her.
The other open question is what will happen between her and her longtime caddie Sean Clewes. Sean and Hee-Won have been the most successful caddie-golfer pairing among the Korean golfers in the past four years. He will certainly caddie for other golfers next year when she is gone from the tour. Hopefully, however, they will reunite when/if she gets back to action. It would be a pity to see them split apart, especially after the same thing recently happened with Grace Park and her longtime caddie Dave Brooker, who left Grace to caddie for Lorena Ochoa.
As for the future, chances are that Hee-Won is not going to retire just
yet. Although she hasn't made her plans clear, she has asked for a medical
extension from the LPGA to allow her to miss most or perhaps all of next
season. If she were thinking of retiring, she might have just done so
rather than ask for the extension. So with any luck, we will again be
seeing this great player out on the links sometime in the future. And
in the meantime, congratulations to Hee-Won and Sonny on the great news!
writes new golf book
Sounds great, but as of the last report, the book will only be available in South Korea, and only in Korean. Come on, Grace! Your English language fans would love to learn how to play golf the Grace Park way as well!!
Meanwhile, Grace Park, Natalie Gulbis and Lorie Kane are the three golfers on the LPGA tour sponsored by Michelob Ultra (you may have seen the great Michelob Ultra TV commercial featuring Grace, where she hits a typically awesome shot, then walks in slow motion up to the green while the music swells and words on the screen compliment her). This year, the company sponsored a contest called the 'These Girls Rock' Sweepstakes. The contest concluded on October 31st, after which a random drawing rewarded a bunch of prizes. The grand prize, awarded to three teams of three people, was a trip to Trump International golf course to play a round of golf with one of the three ambassadors. Check out the included gallery to see photos of the lucky foursome that played 18 holes with Grace Park! As you can see, a splendid time was had by all. Grace seemed to really be getting into it herself! I sure hope we'll be seeing Grace back at the top of her game again in 2007; I think everyone misses the fun she brings to the course.
And for all you Grace fans (and really, who isn't one?), be
sure to check out this great photo of her (click here!), released to promote
her new book.
Jang's 'Birdies for Love'
JJ has also worked in the past with the Korean Red Cross. This year,
she decided to launch an initiative called Birdies for Love. For each
birdie she made during the season, she pledged 10,000 won to the charity.
At the end of the season, she had made 363 birdies. She added 10 million
additional won to the pot and contributed 13,630,000 won total (about
$13,000), presenting the amount to the Red Cross in a ceremony on Monday,
December 4th. I know it's been said before, but: 'Go, JJ, Go!'
Hyun Ahn: Supermodel?
But regardless of her struggles to stay healthy, her popularity in South Korea remains undiminished. On Monday, November 18th, she appeared at an event at the Imperial Palace Hotel in Seoul, to announce that she had signed a new deal. She will appear in advertisements in Korea for Tovice Leisure Group. Tovice runs a group of resort condos in Korea. This is a one year deal that will net Shi Hyun around 200 million won (that's about $200,000). When the advertisements come out, we'll be sure to reproduce them here!
Even more fortunately, you don't have to be able to read Korean to look at these lessons! Just click here to check them out!
Hwa Lee: Rookie of the Year
When Seon Hwa accepted the trophy for the Rookie of the Year during the week of the ADT Championship, she gave a three minute speech in English that she had been practicing for weeks. It was not easy, but she wanted to make sure she thanked all the people that made her success possible. As the speech continued, she got progressively more and more choked up. By the time she was done, the crowd was on its feet, cheering on the young star's emotional honesty and efforts. Even the LPGA Commissioner, Carolyn Bivens, came up and hugged Seon Hwa afterwards. It was a wonderful capper to her great year. And since the LPGA was nice enough to post the speech in its entirety, I present you this link so you can check it out for yourself.
And click here to read an account of the speech.
But one thing is still eluding the Koreans: success at the very highest level. This season, the top four golfers on tour separated themselves from the rest pretty convincingly, and none of those golfers was Korean. Mi Hyun Kim, who essentially finished fifth (Julieta Granada's win at the ADT skewed the results, allowing her to leapfrog dozens of players on the money list) was more than a million dollars behind #1 Lorena Ochoa. Somehow the top Korean ladies need to figure out how to take the next step and get into contention for Player of the Year. Perhaps that will be the treat in store for 2007? Time will tell!