Il Mi Chung is one of the top players on the KLPGA,
and has been for several years (in 2002 she was 2nd on the money
list). Among her notable accomplishments are winning the Korean
Open, beating such luminaries as Se Ri Pak, Gloria Park, Juli Inkster
and Soo Yun Kang. Chung said at the time that she had no desire
to come to the LPGA and was content to stay in Korea. However, in
late 2003 she played the LPGA Q-School and succeeded in getting
an exempt card for 2004.
2004 was not a good season for Il Mi, however. Shortly
before leaving for the US, she lost her sponsorship deal. She had
a hard time adjusting to the travel and conditions in the States,
and only made $14,648 all year. However, at the end of the season,
she got a new sponsor, a Korean golf manufacturer. With the pressure
of earning money in events somewhat relieved, she promised that
she would show the LPGA what she was capable of in 2005.
And indeed, 2005 proved her best season to date
on tour. She even put herself into contention to win at the Canadian
Women's Open, finishing third in the end. She made over $200,000
on the year and easily maintained her tour card for 2006.
In 2006, she improved yet again, finishing within
the top 40 on the money list, and thus earning a two year exempt
card. The highlight of her year was contending for the million dollar
payout at the ADT Championship. She was only a shot or two out of
the money until the 16th hole on Sunday, when she made a mistake
that dropped her to fourth. Still, she had her career year.
2007 was a little bit of a step back; she had no
top ten finishes that year, and only finished 51st on the money
list, but still easily maintained her exempt status for 2008. In
2008, she had two top tens all year and once again earned her full
membership card for 2009.
In December, 2008, Il Mi was named as a member of
the LPGA Player Executive Committee, a seven member group of players
that represents the players in dealings with the LPGA. She was the
first Korean golfer to be named to that group. This is often the
first step to becoming a full voting member on the LPGA's Board
of Directors. Congratulations to her!
Il Mi made just $33,000 in 2010 and was demoted
to partial tour status for 2011. She decided to return to the KLPGA
as a full time member. But she struggled in 2011 on the KLPGA tour,
making just one top ten, a 10th, while missing numerous cuts. She
finished 71st on the money list, and had to return to Q-School.
Amazingly, she was not able to get playing privileges on the big
tour, and ended up playing on one of the junior tours in Korea.
She did not seem to play any events on any Korean
tour in 2012, and it looks as though she may have retired.