Jin Joo Hong joined the KLPGA in 2003. She was a
decent player there, but not one of the very best. Perhaps her biggest
claim to fame before the 2006 season was winning the Best Dressed
Award at the 2005 KLPGA Annual Award Show.
But during the off season that year, Hong decided
she wanted to see if she could elevate the level of her game. She
worked intensively to improve during that Winter. The results were
not immediately apparent, but by the middle of the 2006 KLPGA season,
she started to appear on leaderboards with more regularity.
Her breakthrough came at the SK Enclean Solux Invitational
in mid-September. This event had a stellar field that include LPGA
powerhouses like Mi Hyun Kim and Grace Park, recent LPGA winners
like Joo Mi Kim and Soo-Yun Kang, and top LPGA rookies Kyeong Bae
and Jee Young Lee. Despite this deep field, Jin Joo absolutely steamrollered
the competition. She got out to a big lead early and kept increasing
it through the week. She ended up winning by seven shots.
As impressive as that was, Hong was not done yet.
A month and a half later, she did the same thing to a field of LPGA
players that she had done at the SK. She seized control of the Kolon-Hana
Bank Championship, the lone LPGA tour event in Korea, and cruised
to a 3 shot lead over stars like Jeong Jang, Se Ri Pak, Paula Creamer
and Ji Yai Shin. Like Shi Hyun Ahn and Jee Young Lee before her,
this win gave Hong a two year membership on the LPGA tour. A few
weeks later, she nearly notched a top ten at the Tournament of Champions,
her first event played in the States.
Still, she wasn't sure she wanted to play on the
LPGA. She had earlier planned to play on the JLPGA in 2007, so she
could live with her mother in Japan. But her mom convinced her that
the LPGA was too good an opportunity to pass up.
Jin Joo did not have a very strong 2007 rookie season
on the LPGA, alas, although she still managed a top ten at the end
of the year at the Tournament of Champions, and easily made enough
money to maintain her exempt status for 2008.
In 2008, her results were distinctly better; she
finished just outside the top 50 on the money list, and earned more
than $300,000. But in 2009, she only made about $70,000, and was
not able to maintain top status on tour. As a result, she played
most of her 2010 season in Korea. She had a decent year on the KLPGA,
finishing 15th on the money list with seven top tens.
On Christmas Day 2010, Hong got married. Several
months later, she was back in action on the KLPGA tour as a full
time member. It was not a great year for her, however. She only
managed to finish 60th on the money list, with her best finish a
She had a better 2012 season, finishing 41st on
the money list. She had two top fives, including a fourth at the
LIG Classic in August, and made about 85 million won. In 2013, she
only played one event on the KLPGA, the Saint Nine Masters, finishing