Updated: January, 2014

HA NEUL KIM

The Facts

Birthday: December 17, 1988
Rookie Year on KLPGA: 2007
Birthplace: South Korea
Best LPGA Finish: 6th (2013 KEB Hana Bank Championship)
Best LPGA Major Finish: T-11th (2012 Kraft Nabisco Championship)
Height: 5' 6"
2014 LPGA Status: On KLPGA Tour
Nicknames: None Known
Sponsors: KT, BC Card, Le Coq Sportif, Albatross, Honma
How's her English?: Unknown
Hobbies: Unknown
Road to the LPGA: Still on KLPGA tour

Capsule Bio

Ha Neul Kim joined the KLPGA in 2007, and immediately made an impact in multiple ways. First of all, she is an attractive woman who knows how to dress well (her trademark is to wear sky blue colors -- 'Ha Neul' means 'sky' in Korean). But secondly, she also was a great golfer. She notched 6 top tens in her rookie year, good enough to win her the Rookie of the Year award.

2008 was Kim's breakout season on the KLPGA tour. She started the season well with a third and a sixth, but it was at her third event of the year, the Phoenix Park Classic, that she finally broke through with her first win. In a pitched battle with superstar Ji Yai Shin, Kim seized control, making birdies on the final three holes to collect a four shot win. And her great year was just beginning.

Kim collected her second career win a few weeks later at the Hill State SeoKyung Open. She had seemingly established herself as the second best player on tour behind Shin, when... another golfer suddenly had a great run of her own. Hee Kyung Seo won three straight events on tour, and a new rivalry was born. Kim struck back: she won the SK Energy Invitational for her own third win of the year.

By now, the press was playing up the battle between the two attractive, stylish young golfers. They even matched up against each other in a Skins Game, partnered with PGA star Anthony Kim and a KPGA star. Ha Neul won that one, but that very week, Seo won her fourth KLPGA event to again take over second place on the money list.

Links
Video: Le Coq Sportif commercial
Video: Birdie Phone commercial (Korean)
Video: Meet Ha Neul Kim (Korean)

Galleries

Photos
Seoul Sisters Pix

Ha Neul finished the year with 15 top tens and was third on the tour money list with nearly 400 million won in earnings. She ended the year at the KLPGA Awards Show by being one of five top stars to perform a dance number (!) for the attendees.

2009 was not as good a season for Ha Neul. She struggled with her swing plane, and as a result was far more inconsistent off the tee. She did not win in 2009, but still collected 7 top tens and finished 7th on the money list. She also played a couple of LPGA events, but did not make the cut at the SBS Open or Kraft Nabisco, and finished in the top 30 at the Hana Bank Championship.

Ha Neul struggled far more in the 2010 season, although there was light towards the end. She only finished 21st on the money list, despite three top four finishes. But she played well in one of the latter events of the year, and at the first event of the 2011 season, she contended all week and finished second.

Signs were good that Ha Neul was about to have a comeback season, and in 2011, she more than delivered on that promise. At the next event in April, Kim finished 8th. One week later, she returned to the winner's circle for the first time in more than two years. Kim continued to play well by and large after that, notching a few top tens here and there, but also missing a few cuts. She also claimed a 13th place finish at the Hana Bank, her best ever LPGA result, in that stretch. Through it all, she stayed near the top of the KLPGA money list, and when she caught fire again towards the end of the year, it was with an inferno-like intensity.

Her first big salvo came at the Hite Cup, the year's third Major. So Yeon Ryu was the current money list leader, and also the US Women's Open winner from a few months earlier. She took a share of the lead for the first two days. But a rules infraction in round 3 knocked her down, and an unknown amateur rose up. By the middle of round four, the amateur, In Ji Jeon, climbed to a three shot lead and looked poised for the win. But then the wheels came off for her, and after a late triple bogey, Ha Neul Kim, who had lingered all day, suddenly found herself near the lead. Soon thereafter, Kim had her first Major victory!

From that point on, Kim went from triumph to triumph the rest of the season. She finished second at the year's final Major, the KB Financial Star Championship; then won her third title of the year at the EDaily KYJ Golf Women's Open; then lost a grueling 7 hole playoff to Young Ran Jo at the final event of the year. To cap everything off, she won an unofficial all-star event a few weeks after that.

Three wins, an unofficial win, over 500 million won earned: Kim's 2011 season had been a smashing success. She claimed her first money list title, won Player of the Year, and was even voted Most Popular player by the fans. She dominated the awards at the KLPGA Award Show, the KLPGA's new Queen.

Kim started 2012 almost as hot as she had finished 2011. At her first tournament of the year, the RACV Australian Ladies Masters, she shot three closing rounds of 65-64-67 to very nearly capture the trophy, finishing tied for second. It was her best ever finish outside of the KLPGA tour. She managed a 24th and 20th in her next two LPGA events, then just missed her first career LPGA top ten when she finished tied for 11th at the year's first Major, the Kraft Nabisco. So far so good.

Ha Neul played well during the first half of the KLPGA season, notching four top fives among her finishes, but no wins. Meanwhile, she was overshadowed by the emergence of Char Young Kim, who won twice, and 16 year old amateur sensation Hyo Joo Kim, who absolutely smoked the field at the Lotte Mart Women's Open. But in the second half of the year, Kim's relentless consistency moved her towards the top in all the tour standings. By the time she won her only victory of the season, at the Rush & Cash Charity Classic, she was tops on the money list, Player of the Year standings and scoring average.

Kim only had three KLPGA events outside of the top 20 all season, while notching 10 top tens (one win, two seconds, three thirds among them). She wound up winning the money list for the second straight year, with nearly 459 million won earned, and also captured her first scoring average title, with a 71.55 stroke average. But she just missed out on the Player of the Year; she held a slim lead over Je Yoon Yang much of the final few events, but at the year's final tournament, Yang won the trophy, and with it the Player of the Year.

Besides her KLPGA success, Kim also notched her best Major finish at the Nabisco and best LPGA finish, a tie for 7th, at the KEB Hana Bank Championship. She played in the Korea-Japan Team Competition, where she had one win and one loss.

She played two events at the end of 2012, making a 9th at the Swinging Skirts and a 10th at the Hyundai China Ladies Open. It was a promising start for her 2013 season. But alas, things did not go so well when the season started in earnest. She played decently at the Mission Hills World Ladies Championship in China, teaming with Inbee Park to take the team trophy. She also won the Best Dressed trophy, earning more than a million votes from Chinese fans online.

Ha Neul also played the Kia Classic, where she finished 13th, and the Kraft Nabisco, where she didn't do so well. The KLPGA season started after that, but Kim surprisingly struggled. In the first half of the year, she missed several cuts and had no top tens. It suddenly looked very unlikely that the two-time KLPGA money list queen was even going to be a factor in 2013.

Fortunately, she righted the ship in a big way by playing overseas. Invited to play at the US Women's Open at Sebonack in late June, she surprised everyone by leading the field after day 1 by shooting a 6 under par 66. She slipped down the leaderboard after that, but still finished a very respectable tied for 25th. Her results reinvigorated her, and she even talked about going to LPGA Q-School in the Fall (if she was unable to win a tournament and get an LPGA card that way, of course).

Her return to Korea in August saw her playing much better. After an 11th place finish, she won her only event of 2013 at the MBN Kim Young Joo Golf Women's Open, and she did it by shooting a lights out 63 in the final round. She also had a 2nd place finish at the KDB and the year's final event, the Chosun Ilbo Posco Championship. In the end, she finished 11th on the money list with more than 290 million won earned.

She did not, however, get to go to Q-School. As it turned out, she was the defending champion at the Rush and Cash Charity Classic the week before Q-School sectionals. KLPGA rules stipulate that a player must defend all titles or face penalties. Kim felt she could not prepare for qualifying if she had to fly in a day beforehand, so she skipped qualifying for another year. It was a bad break for her and all her fans who want to see her compete on the LPGA. But look out for her to make several appearances in LPGA events in 2014!

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