Updated: Jan, 2014

AMY YANG

The Facts

Real Name: Hee Young Yang
Birthday:
July 28, 1989
Rookie Year on LPGA: 2008
Birthplace: South Korea
Best LPGA Finish: Win (2013 KEB Hana Bank Championship)
Best LPGA Major Finish: 2nd (
2012 US Women's Open)
Best Score: 62 (2013 Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia)
Best Scoring Average for a year: 70.75 (2013)
Best Season Money Total:
$912,160 (2011)
Best Season Money Position:
10th (2011)
Most Top Tens/Season:
7 (2011)

Rookie of the Year finish: Way back

Height: 5' 8"
2014 LPGA Status: Category 1
Nicknames: Little Se Ri
Sponsors: None
How's her English?: Almost fluent
Road to the LPGA: Finished T-54th at 2007 Q-School to earn non-exempt status

Capsule Bio

Amy Yang is one of a growing number of young Korean hopefuls who left Korea to train elsewhere while still in their teens. They hope that the easier access to training and golf courses afforded outside of Korea will enable them to progress in their golf skills much quicker. Amy, however, did not go to the US as many Korean prodigies do; rather, she and her family moved to Australia to hone her skills.

Amy was born to Joon Mo (James) and Sun Hee (Sunny) Yang. James had been a member of the Korean national canoe team at one point, while Sunny had been a champion javelin thrower. Amy was also interested in sports, and started playing golf at age 10. Originally, she had wanted to be a swimmer, but a driving range near her community swimming pool drew her towards golf. After just three years of playing, she would become a strong golfer.

Amy moved to Australia's Gold Coast when she was 15. Barely a year later, she was already one of the top amateur players in her adopted country, finishing as a runner-up at the Australian Women's Amateur championship and winning the New Zealand Women's Amateur. But nothing prepared Amy for a week early in February, 2006.

That week, she participated in the ANZ Ladies Masters, at a course just twenty minutes away from where she lived in Australia. This is an official event on the Ladies European Tour, and is considered a Major by Australian golfers. She had been granted a sponsor's exemption due to her outstanding amateur record in 2005.

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Video: Amy at the World Golf Hall of Fame

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2007 Photos
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Seoul Sisters Pix

After shooting a 6 under par 66 in round 2, the unlikely leader of the tournament was none other than Amy Yang. She hung onto that lead in round 3, despite a great few finishing holes by French pro Ludivine Kreutz. In the final round, Amy played with Kreutz and another amateur, a Korean American named Tiffany Joh.

History was on the line. No amateur had ever won an Australian ladies event, and no one younger than 18 had ever won an event on any of the major golf tours in the world (Amy was 16 years 6 months old at the time). It was only her second ever pro event, but she seemed unflappable, and with just two holes to go, she had a two shot lead over Joh and seemingly had the event in the bag. A large group of kids from her high school followed her to cheer her on.

But Joh birdied 17, and professional Catherine Cartwright birdied 18 to move to within a shot of Yang. Yang finally hit a bad shot, her approach on 18, which went into the stands; she bogied, as did Joh, and suddenly Yang found herself in a playoff against Cartwright for the title.

But Yang righted the ship and played two great shots on the first playoff hole. She then dunked a 7 meter birdie putt to win the trophy and become the youngest to ever do so on the European Tour, as well as the first amateur to win on that tour since 1984. She broke down in tears of disbelief on the final green.

Yang's win earned her invitations to play in the 2006 Evian Ladies Masters and the British Women's Open. In the latter tournament, she was the low amateur. The Ladies European Tour (LET) then offered her a 3 year exemption if she turned professional, providing she was accompanied by one of her parents until she turns 18. Turning pro had not been on her agenda until the end of 2007, but after much discussion with her school, her coach and her family, a way was found that she could both turn professional and also complete her schooling. She played the LET events that fall on or around school holidays, and planned to graduate from Robina High School at the end of the year.

Her professional success was immediate. Her first event was the Dubai Ladies Masters in late October. In a field stocked with top talent, she finished fourth, behind only Annika Sorenstam, Karrie Webb and multiple winner Helen Alfredsson. She pocketed more than $40,000 Australian dollars for her efforts. At her next event, the Mauritius Open, she finished third.

She continued to play professional events in 2007, including the US Women's Open, where she finished tied for 50th, her best Major finish to date. In late 2007, she tried to qualify for the LPGA at Q-School, but barely managed to acquire non-exempt status. Chances are she will focus on playing in Europe for the time being. She planned on moving her home base to Florida starting in 2008; for her final tournaments in Australia, she managed two top tens at the 2008 Australian Ladies Open and the ANZ Ladies Masters.

Amy played sporadically on the LPGA in 2008, and started well, nearly grabbing a top ten in her first event, the SBS Open. Months later, she secured a tie for 9th, her first career top ten, at the Hana Bank Kolon Championship. It was her first time playing professionally in her homeland. These finishes were not good enough to get her an exempt card, however, so she had to return to Q-School in December. She did brilliantly there, finishing second to easily earn full playing privileges on the LPGA for 2009.

Amy had much more luck in 2008 playing on the Ladies European Tour, where she was somewhat of a pioneer, the only Korean on that tour. Week after week, she made top tens, often finishing in the top five. She very quickly became one of the top players on tour.

In the summer, she played brilliantly at the Swiss Open, only to lose to Suzann Pettersen, who was practically unstoppable that week. Still, her second place finish was the best since she had won the ANZ. She didn't have to wait long to better it: the next week, at the German Open, she crushed the field, shooting a third round 63 to seize the lead and eventually win by four shots. Among those in the field she beat was American Michelle Wie. With that win, Yang became the top player on the tour's money list. She then proved she was one of the most generous, donating the entire first place check to the victims of the Sichuan earthquake in China.

Yang wasn't done. A week after the British Open, she played at the Scandinavian TPC hosted by Annika. In Sorenstam's last pro event in her homeland, Yang stole the show, winning her second title of the year.

Although she would not finish the year atop the money list, she still had played well enough as the youngest player on the LET to make everyone sit up and take notice.

All in all, Amy's 2009 season, her first one where she had full playing privileges on the LPGA, was not bad, but perhaps did not live up to the potential she has shown. She only managed two top tens, although one of them was in a Major, and the other saw her come close to winning. She easily maintained playing privileges for 2010, however, finishing 45th on the money list.

In 2010, Yang's career took a quantum leap upward. She improved in almost every way, and went from being merely a promising player to a genuine star.

She started the year with a top ten at the very first event of the LPGA season. But her first big tournament came a few months later at the Sybase Match Play Championship. Yang worked her way through the field, reaching the semi-finals. She ended up losing to American Angela Stanford, the only non-Korean in the final four, and also lost her consolation match against world #1 Jiyai Shin. But her 4th place finish was still her career best. Better was to come.

Yang proceed to finish in the top 15 in the next three Majors: 14th at the LPGA Championship, then 5th place at both the US Women's Open and the Women's British Open. She cooled off after that, but returned with a vengeance at the year's final event, the Tour Championship in December. At that event, she led most of the week, but a quadruple bogey early in the fourth round seemed to spell disaster. Nonetheless, she rallied, caught leader Maria Hjorth, and dunked a birdie on the final hole to force Hjorth to par to win. Though Hjorth did make that putt, Yang's second place finish was her new best. In all, she made more than 3/4 of a million dollars in 2010, more than twice her 2009 earnings, and recorded 6 top tens. She finished 14th on the money list, far outdistancing her previous year's 45th.

Yang had an even better season in 2011 than she did in 2010. She still was not able to claim her first win, but notched 7 top tens, the most in her career in a single year. She was once again great at the Majors, finishing 19th, 12th, 10th and 4th in those most important events. She wound up 10th on the money list, her first time in the top ten, and all without that pivotal win.

Her best week in 2011 was at the Walmart tournament in September. She shot a third round 64 to catch world #1 Ya Ni Tseng for the lead. In the final round, they were neck and neck, eventually ending up in a playoff which Tseng won. So, another really close call for Yang, but she had to settle for the runner up position. She also finished second to Tseng at the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan tournament in front of Tseng's hometown fans. Once again, she was paired with the Taiwanese star in the final group, but this time she didn't play that well and lost by five shots for yet another runner up result.

Yang did collect a win in 2011, but not on the LPGA tour. She was one of the non-tour members invited to play at the KLPGA's final Major, the KB Financial Group Star Championship. She really asserted herself in round 3, shooting a blistering 64 to take a four shot lead over top KLPGA star Ha Neul Kim, who shot a 66 herself. Both players were pretty much even in the final round, and Yang took the title, her first win on the KLPGA tour and first victory of any kind since she left the Ladies European Tour in 2009.

Amy's 2012 season on the LPGA was only a little weaker than her 2011 one. She made about $844,000 and finished 13th on the money list, just a few spots behind her 2011 result. She had 5 top tens, including two in Majors. Indeed, as usual, it was at the Majors where Yang really shone. She finished tied for 4th at the Nabisco, but her best finish was at the US Women's Open, where she played well enough to wind up in the final group on Sunday with eventual champion Na Yeon Choi. Choi had established too big a lead for Yang to catch her, but Amy still finished second, four shots ahead of the third place player, and the only player besides Choi to finish under par. Any other year, she might have been the Open champion.

Since joining the tour in 2008, Amy tried hard to get her first LPGA win. She came close several times, but was never able to get over that hump. At last, in 2013, Amy Yang found the winner's circle on the LPGA. And it happened in her home country of Korea, making it even sweeter. Amy found herself in a pitched battle with several other players for the title. Late in her round she drove a par four and putted in for eagle, then followed that with a birdie on her final hole to move into the lead. She eventually got into a playoff with fellow Korean star Hee Kyung Seo, but Amy made birdie on the first playoff hole to put the event away. She immediately broke down in tears, ecstatic to at last get that maiden win!

Amy had six top tens in 2013, including a tie for 5th in Malaysia the week before her Korean win (she scored her career best round there, a 62). She didn't excel at the Majors like she usually does, but did have a fifth place at the LPGA Championship. She had a great scoring average, her best: 70.75, and finished 18th on the money list.

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