Hyun Ahn turned pro in 2002 and played mostly on the 'Dream Tour',
the Korean equivalent of the Futures Tour. She ended up leading
that tour at the end of the year, so in 2003 she qualified to play
on the KLPGA tour full time.
was in fourth place on the KLPGA money list and thus was invited
to play the CJ 9 Bridges Classic, an LPGA event that takes place
in Korea. She shocked almost everyone by not only winning that event,
but by leading it from start to finish and beating Se Ri Pak when
the two were paired together in the final group. Her win there was
the first on the LPGA tour by a non-LPGA player in 8 years. She
was also the sixth youngest to win on the tour in history, at just
over 19 years of age, and the youngest international player to win
win earned her two years of status on the LPGA tour: non-exempt
status in 2004 and exempt status in 2005. It also earned her a chance
to compete in the Tournament of Champions in 2003, where the defending
champion was once again Se Ri Pak.
Hyun has become a big celebrity in Korea. Her fan club exploded
from just 50 members before the 9 Bridges to over 6,000 just after
it. She is frequently featured in newspaper articles, where she
is invariably called 'Cinderella' Shi Hyun Ahn.
Hyun's schedule was definitely accelerated in the wake of her winning
the CJ 9 Bridges Classic. Originally, she had planned to hone her
game in Korea for a few years, in the process learning a bit of
English and preparing herself mentally for the Big Leagues in America.
Now, suddenly, she found herself with just a few months to prepare
for the LPGA tour. She made the most of this time, working intensely
in order to make the biggest splash possible. And she did! In her
first two events of 2004, she managed two top five finishes. Shortly
thereafter, however, Aree Song, the player most people considered
a shoo-in for Rookie of the Year, nearly won the Nabisco Championship,
and it looked as though Shi Hyun might fade a bit (she missed the
cut at that event).
Ahn was far from done. At the year's second Major, she made an enormous
run at Annika Sorenstam in the final round. Coming from a huge distance
back, she came to as close as two shots out of the lead before Annika
gathered herself and put it away. Still, Shi Hyun's second place
finish was a great achievement, and put her back into the Rookie
Hyun managed one more second place finish later in the year, and
though she ran out of gas a little bit towards the very end of the
year, her great play allowed her to capture the Rookie of the Year
award from Song. She was the fourth Korean in seven years to be
proved to be a bit of a down year after the high of 2004. However,
she still managed six top tens and finished in the top 40 on the
money list. In 2006, she rebounded nicely. In the early part of
the season, she made herself a factor at several important tournaments,
notably the LPGA Championship, where she had a chance to get into
the playoff with Karrie Webb and Se Ri Pak, but hit her approach
on the final hole into the water. She also contended at the US Women's
Open, and played well at the Wegman's LPGA, where she led after
two rounds but faded. She struggled with back injuries, which forced
her to miss a large chunk of the season.
had a decent 2007 season without too many injury issues, at least
none that were publicized. She wound up finishing 27th on the money
list, and played in both the Kyoraku and Lexus Cups at the end of
the year. 2008, however, was her worst season since joining the
LPGA; she only finished 55th on the money list. She seemed to be
struggling with injuries much of the time. When she was healthy,
she still played at her old level. Her best finish was a tie for
6th at the LPGA Championship. She did even worse in 2009, finishing
59th on the money list, with slightly more than $200,000 in earnings.
2010, her slide continued. She finished 61st that year on the money
list, and had no top tens all year. However, she is still easily
maintaining playing privileges on tour, despite her decreased earnings.
Hyun made less than $65,000 on the LPGA tour in 2011 and saw her
status fall to category 11 for 2012. She also played in Korea, and
it was here that the most interesting development of the year happened.
During her appearance at the KLPGA's Hanwha Classic in September,
her group was followed by "Marco", a popular Korean television
personality originally from South America. The gossip mills started
buzzing, and soon afterwards, Marco revealed that he and Ahn had
been dating for a year and were wildly in love. In November they
were married, and have become quite an 'It' couple over there.
late April, 2012, just six months after they wed, the couple announced
the birth of their first daughter, Grace. Shi Hyun took the entire
year off from golf to take care of her. She did not return to action
until late in 2013, when she accepted a sponsor's exemption to play
at the KLPGA's ADT-CAPS Championship. Amazingly, despite having
not played in about two years, she carded a top ten finish. She
decided to get back into golf seriously, and intends to play a full
schedule on the KLPGA in 2014.
her marriage hit some rough spots; the low point came when police
were called to end a physical altercation at their house. There
are rumors that Ahn has separated from her husband, but I have not
been able to confirm this.