The final qualifying round (Q Series) for the 2022 season of the U.S. Women’s Tour has been completed. Japan’s Ayaka Furue (21) and Hinako Shibuno (23) finished 7th and tied for 20th, respectively, in the eight-day, 144-hole event. Next year, they will compete as “newcomers” in their first year on the US Tour.
While all eyes will be on these two in Japan, let’s not forget that there are many rivals who are also competing on the US Tour for the first time. The first-place finisher in the final qualifying round was a Korean player who has produced many overseas major champions in the past.
Her name is Ahn Na-ling. Her scores over the past eight days have been impressive. She shot 67 in the first round, 67 in the second round, 72 in the third round, 66 in the fourth round, 64 in the fifth round, 69 in the sixth round, 70 in the seventh round, and 66 in the eighth round. He made it through to the top of the leaderboard without shooting a single over-par round. This is the first time in three years that a Korean player has finished first in the final qualifying round since Lee Jeong-eun (then 22) in 2018.
‘Ahn has been a near unknown since she turned pro in 2014. Her breakthrough came after she won two matches on the 2020 Korean Tour, including her first victory. Although he did not win this year, he was among the top players with 11 top-10 finishes, including two second-place finishes, and ninth place on the money list. She was never a member of the Korean national team as an amateur, so she was never part of the elite, but she is a hardworking player who has steadily improved and has earned the right to play on the US tour.
Her strength is her precision shots; her par on percentage on the Korean Tour in 2019 was 66.81%, but in 2020, when she won for the first time, it rose to 74.46%. With another 73.62% this year, improving his iron shot technique has been the key to putting together a score. Anne, the top finisher, said
I’m glad I was able to finish well, even though it was physically challenging for me to compete for two weeks. I’m really looking forward to the U.S. Tour because I can go to many different countries. I’m happy to be able to compete with the players I’ve been watching on TV.
He is truly looking forward to playing golf in a new environment. I’m looking forward to playing golf in a new environment.
Another of the most promising players in Korea is 22-year-old Choi Hye-jin. She has already won 10 times on the Korean Women’s Tour (including two wins as an amateur) and finished 8th in the final qualifying round of her first attempt on the US Tour. She is the number one player on the current Korean Women’s Tour.
In contrast to Ahn, Choi has been steadily working her way up the elite ladder. In contrast to Ahn, Choi has been on an elite path. In 2017, when she competed as an amateur in the U.S. Women’s Open, an overseas major, she suddenly surprised fans by finishing second. She also won two amateur titles on the Korean Women’s Tour in the same year. She may still look a bit innocent, but her strong shots, imposing play, and no-holds-barred mentality make her look like a seasoned veteran.
In her first year as a professional, she won two tournaments in 2006 and five in 2007 to win her first prize money title, and in 2008 she won one more to establish a solid position in Korean women’s golf.
Choi Hye-jin, who had said that her goal was to compete on the U.S. Tour, said with some excitement that she had taken the first step toward her new dream.
I still can’t believe it (securing a spot on the US Tour). I am very excited. I want to practice a lot more and fix the things that are bothering me.
There are still many players with high potential in Korea, which is known as a “golf powerhouse. Currently, there are four Koreans playing on the U.S. Tour in the top 10 of the women’s golf world rankings: Ko Jin Young (2nd), Park In Bi (3rd), Kim Sae Young (5th), and Kim Hyo Ju (9th). I can’t help but feel the depth of the field.
Ahn Narin and Choi Hye-jin, who have switched from the Korean Tour to the U.S. Tour as their main competition. They are sure to become good rivals for Shibuno and Furue.
Reporting and writing by： Myung Woo Kim