Korean female professional golfer Kim Haneul (32) retired from the Japan Women’s Tour after the “NOBUTA GROUP Masters GC Ladies” (closed on October 24).
She has won 8 tournaments on the Korean Women’s Tour, and won the title of the prize money queen for 2 consecutive years in 2011 and 2012, before joining the Japan Tour in 2015. In 2015, she began competing on the Japan Tour, where she won a total of six matches and became a popular player in both Japan and Korea, nicknamed the “Smile Queen. After her stint in Japan, Kim returned to Korea to play her retirement match for her fans in her home country.
She was recommended to play in the SK Seeds-SK Telecom Championship (November 12-14), the final event of the season on the Korean Women’s Tour.
Many cameramen followed Kim from the first day of the event, as she is still a popular player in Korea. As she walked the course, she waved to the cameras and showed a carefree smile, indicating that she was enjoying her last round of play.
Her total score was 9 over, and she did not qualify, but her expression was very refreshing as she played through to the end. After holing out, Kim received a bouquet of flowers and was greeted by many players.
A press conference was held after the first day’s play, where she talked in detail about the circumstances that led to her retirement and her future activities. A Korean reporter asked her about her tears after her last match in Japan.
The Korean reporter asked her about her tears after her last match in Japan, and she replied, “I played on the Japan Tour for a long time, so I made a lot of good friends. Every time the players came to me one by one and said good job, I cried. My friends cried, so I think I cried a lot during the week.”
This was enough for me to know how much Kim Haneul was loved in Japan.
She talked about the circumstances of her retirement and revealed her feelings of suffering from the Covid-19 disaster.
“I had been thinking about retiring for two years. But it was not an easy decision. I couldn’t go back and forth between Korea and Japan due to the Covid-19 disaster, so my body and mind were very tired. Even when I went to the golf course, I did not enjoy it as much as before, and I came to the conclusion that it would be better to quit here. I thought the quality of my play had been declining since last year.
As for his life as a professional golfer so far, he said he wanted to praise himself, saying, “I’ve worked hard.
“I don’t know if that’s a positive thing. This may not be a positive thing, because it was very hard at the end. I won the Rookie of the Year award and the Money Queen award, but I think I was not a stable player, hitting rock bottom and then coming back up to win. I’m not a mentally strong player, but I still practiced a lot, so I think I was able to win.
She was also clear about what she would do after retiring.
“I am a golfer, so I will leave the tour, but I have no plans to leave golf. I will be doing commentary and other work, but I want to take my time planning my life now.
After retiring, she also launched her YouTube channel “HANEUL” on November 2. “I’m a funnier and more sober person than my appearance suggests, but I want to show you more of that (laughs ),” she said, revealing the reason for her YouTube debut.
Although her retirement at the age of 33 may seem a little early, Kim Haneul was one of the original players to have a fan club, which was rare in Korea at first. Her “second life” will be not only in Korea but also in Japan.
Reporting and writing： Akira Kim Photo： KLPGA