In 2007, she had a decent season on the KLPGA, although
it was her weakest season since joining the tour. She was not able
to collect a win all year, although she did come up with three runner
up finishes. Perhaps the most painful of these came at the second
KB Star Tour event. She had a two stroke lead at one point in the
final round, when her caddie noticed that her playing partner, Eun
Hee Ji, had left one of her clubs by the green. Her caddie picked
it up and put it into Hee Young's bag. A few holes later, Ji noticed
the club was missing and spotted it in Park's bag. She called a
two stroke penalty on Park for having too many clubs in her bag.
As it turned out, Ji and Park wound up in a playoff, which Ji won;
but if it had not been for the penalty, which Ji called on Park,
Park would have been the victor. Sometimes it doesn't pay to do
someone a favor!
Park finished in the top five at her LPGA Q-School
sectional that Fall, then played brilliantly in the finals, eventually
finishing third to earn her exempt card for 2008. She was the only
exempt Korean rookie on tour that year.
In 2008, Hee Young had a pretty decent campaign,
although she was overshadowed by her fellow KLPGA refugee Na Yeon
Choi. Still, she played quite well, easily maintaining her exempt
status, and notching her career best Major finish at the British
Open besides. She also signed a multi-year sponsorship deal with
Hana Bank and Elord in 2008.
Hee Young's second year on tour was significantly
better than her first. She made more top tens (6), earned over $600,000
for the year, and finished 20th on the money list. Among the highlights
was her 2nd place finish in Thailand. That event almost turned out
very differently: she was deathly ill in round one, shot a 79, and
ended up in the hospital. The next day, however, she shot a 64,
her best ever score, and ended the week behind only world number
one Lorena Ochoa.
Park had a tie for second in Japan as well, and
a tie for fifth at the season ending Tour Championship. She also
had her two best Major finishes, a tie for 9th at the US Women's
Open and a tie for 11th at the Ricoh British Open. She still had
a tendency to shoot a great round followed by a not so good one,
but at least her overall results were getting better and better.
At the end of the year, her chief sponsor Hana Bank
published a golf lesson book featuring her and In Kyung Kim. It
was sold in stores in Korea and given away to valued customers of
In 2010, Park was not quite as impressive as she
had been the previous year, although she still had several highlights.
She had 6 top tens in total, with her best finish being a tie for
4th at the State Farm Classic. That event saw her shoot a final
round 63, her best ever score, to lose to Cristie Kerr by 2 shots.
In the end, she finished 34th on the money list, easily maintaining
category 1 status for 2011.
Meanwhile, Hee Young had another thrill in 2010:
her younger sister Choo Young qualified for the KLPGA and joined
the tour as a rookie. Hee Young even got to watch Choo Young play
in one event, cheering her on from the sidelights. If she ever makes
it to the LPGA, they will be the first Korean sisters to play on
tour since the Song sisters, Aree and Naree (who were half Korean,
Hee Young finished the year by attending JLPGA Qualifying
School. She ended up winning medalist honors with an 11 under par
total, 2 shots ahead of second place Shanshan Feng of China. So
she has full membership on both the LPGA and JLPGA for 2011, and
will presumably split her time between those two tours.
Hee Young had a mediocre start to her 2011 season.
She did not have a top 30 finish until late June when she finished
14th at the LPGA Championship. But she caught fire in the second
half of the year. In August, she was tied for the lead on the final
hole of the Safeway Classic, and just needed a birdie to win or
par to enter a playoff. But she made bogey to finish third, a sad
end to her best chance yet to win her first LPGA event. But there
was an upside: her finish qualified her for the season ending tour
The next week, she finished tied for 12th at the
Canadian Women's Open, and notched two more top 12 finishes in the
coming weeks. Then came the CME Group Titleholders, the tour championship
that her Safeway finish had qualified her for. She played great
golf, finishing her third round with several impressive birdies
to move into the lead. On the final day, she kept her head, despite
having several of the top players in the world breathing down her
neck. It all came down to a chip shot on the 18th hole. Had she
made bogey there, she may have lost. But this time she hit a fantastic
up and down, and at last, after four years on tour, she collected
her first LPGA trophy!! The win netted her $500,000, one of the
biggest checks ever earned by a Korean golfer, and moved her to
12th on the money list, by far her best finish.
Hee Young didn't win in 2012, but she still had
a pretty decent season. She notched five top tens on the year and
made more than $400,000, finishing 34th on the money list. Among
her best results were a tie for 7th at the KEB Hana Bank Championship
in Korea, and a 5th at the RR Donnelly.
2013 was the best year for the Rocket yet. She had
two great highlights. She collected her second career win at the
Manulife Financial LPGA Classic in July. This was a very low scoring
event, and Park was up for the challenge. She shot a 61, her all
time best, in round 3. In round 4, she made a heap of birdies at
the end of the round to force a playoff with Angela Stanford after
both went 26 under par total (an all time low score on the LPGA
for the Korean golfers). The playoff took three holes; Park made
three more birdies and the trophy was hers.
Hee Young's other great event came shortly thereafter
at the Women's British Open. Earlier in the year, Hee Young finished
7th at the Nabisco for her best ever Major finish. She was never
in contention there, but at St. Andrews in August, she was right
in the hunt until the end. Her playing partner Stacy Lewis made
two birdies on the final two holes to eliminate Hee Young, but she
still finished tied for second with old rival Na Yeon Choi, by far
her best Major result to date.
Hee Young had two more top four finishes and wound
up 10th on the tour money list with close to $850,000 earned. It
was her first top ten on the money list. She ended the year 18th
in the Rolex rankings.
Hee Young's 2014 was not as strong as her two previous
years had been. She made around $447,000 and finished 40th on the
money list. Her best finish came at the last event of the year,
the CME Group Titleholders (a tie for 7th). HYP does have one thing
to look forward to next year: her younger sister successfully qualified
for the LPGA at Q-School, so the two of them will both have full
status on tour in 2015.