An 18-year-old high school student golfer who has suddenly appeared on the Korean Ladies Professional Golf (KLPGA) tour is attracting a lot of attention.
Her name is Lee Ye Won, and although she is a high school senior born in March 2003, she is also a professional golfer who qualified for the tour in April this year.
In March of this year, she passed the qualifying round to qualify for the professional tour (KLPGA Associate Member) and made her first appearance on the third division Jump Tour. In March this year, she passed the qualifying round to qualify for the professional tour (KLPGA Associate Member) and entered the third division Jump Tour for the first time, suddenly winning the first and second rounds two weeks in a row to become a full member of the KLPGA.
In June, she moved to the 2nd division Dream Tour, where she has played 10 tournaments and finished in the top 10 in 7 of them, and in August, she got her first win, and the Korean women’s golf world was already buzzing that she was a gem who could play on the regular tour.
With a height of 163 cm and a charming smile, there were early indications that her popularity was about to take off.
It was at this time that she entered the KB Financial Star Championship, a major in the first division of the KLPGA Tour, in September. Lee Yi-won belongs to KB Financial Group, one of the largest financial institutions in Korea, and this was her first appearance on the regular tour as an invited player. In a tournament that features many talented players such as Minji Park, who has won six times this season, Hyojoo Kim, Inji Jeong, and Inbi Park, who mainly play on the U.S. Tour, she quickly came into the spotlight when she tied for the lead on the second day.
However, on the third day, she struggled with the tension of being in the spotlight and the difficult course setting, and shot 6 over.
The story doesn’t end here. The following week, he played in the OK Savings Bank Pak Seri Invitational as a recommended player and shot a 64 on the first day with 8 birdies and no bogeys to take the sole lead by 2 shots over the second place.
Although she ended the tournament in 25th place, her 64 on the first day was the first time in four years that she broke the course record (7-under, 65) set by Kim Haneul in 2007. She received the Course Record Award at the awards ceremony.
The Korean media even described her as a “terrifying newcomer. In addition, the management company in charge of Lee Ye-Won said, “She has been a member of the national team and has shown very fast growth on the professional stage.
Incidentally, Lee Yewon competed in the Neighbors Trophy Team Championship, a tri-nation tournament between Japan, Korea and Taiwan held in Miyazaki Prefecture in 2019 when she was on the Korean National Team, and won the individual competition by holding the lead for three days. Furthermore, Korea also won the team competition.
The Japanese team members at that time included Yuri Yoshida, who was active on the tour, Miyu Goto and Ayami Ogura, who passed the professional test this year, and Tsubasa Kajiya, who won the Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship in April this year, but they were no match for Lee Ye Won.
In the Korean women’s golf world, where strong players are produced one after another, one can’t help but be surprised at the reality that high school students have already started to leave results on the professional stage.
In the Japanese women’s golf world, we have the “golden generation” including Shibuno Hyuko, the “in-between generation” including Inami Moenei, the “platinum generation” including Nishimura Yuna and Furue Ayaka, and the “platinum generation” including Sasao Yu. Below them are the “millennium generation,” including Yuka Sasao and Mao Saigo, and the young generation is growing rapidly. It may not be long before we see her name in the international majors and world rankings.
Reporting and writing： Akira Kim PHOTO： KLPGA