Isn’t there a second Ko Jin-young… KLPGA making ‘frog in the well’

At the Korea Championship held in Songdo last week, the Korea Professional Golf Association (KPGA) Korean Tour co-hosted the DP World Tour (formerly the European Tour) for the first time in 10 years, and there were foreign reporters. I had a brief conversation with a Chinese reporter I met in the press room.

A Chinese reporter boasted to the fullest by listing his country’s players who are currently active on overseas tours. Thanks to players such as Yin Luoning, Wushun, and Li Hao Tong winning all over the world, he was able to deliver good news to mainland China, which was depressed during the pandemic.

He asked the reporter why Chinese players are so good lately. Among the obvious but non-obvious stories such as Fengshan Mountain Kids, the growth of the golf industry, and capital expansion, there was a story that sounded an alarm bell. “There are three LPGA tour events in China.”

In China, the Blue Bay LPGA, Buick LPGA Shanghai, and Asiana Airlines Open have been held. Competitions have been canceled one after another due to the spread of Corona 19, but from this year, starting with Buick LPGA Shanghai in October, Chinese competitions are scheduled to resume.

If an LPGA Tour event is held locally, some players from the country can participate with special qualifications even without a seed. Face off against world-class players in challenging course settings, build confidence and experience that you can do it too, and develop your competitive edge. 

There is the BMW Ladies Championship, the only LPGA tour event held in Korea. However, following last year, it seems that KLPGA players will not be able to play in the BMW Ladies Championship again this year. This is because the BMW Ladies Championship has become an unofficial event of the KLPGA Association. Only players with a seed on the LPGA Tour can participate. Since there are no changes to the rules yet, KLPGA players must compete in the Sangsangin/Korea Economic Daily TV Open held on the same day.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism recommended the KLPGA in March to ease restrictions on overseas tours in order to protect the rights and interests of players. It was meant to improve the part that only allowed three times a year to participate in overseas tours. As a result, KLPGT removed the limit on the number of appearances on overseas tours. However, the KLPGA major competitions must be played first, and if overseas tours are held in Korea, the condition is that they must follow ‘separate official regulations’.

From the player’s point of view, nothing has changed from last year. I can’t participate in the BMW Ladies Championship this year either. The removal of the three-event limit doesn’t help the players much either. Among the KLPGA players, there are not many players who are ranked high enough to choose more than three overseas tour events.  

If you play on the KLPGA Tour as your main stage, you cannot accumulate many ranking points due to the world ranking structure. Park Min-ji, who won 12 wins in two years, is ranked 23rd, the highest in the world among KLPGA players, and only Kim Su-ji and Lee Ye-won are in the top 50. 

In other words, it is difficult to enter the top 50 by recording a few top 10s on the KLPGA tour for a year. Usually, the qualifications for major women’s golf tournaments are within the top 50, and the US Women’s Open is ranked 75th. Even if she is qualified, it is difficult to schedule an overseas tour while playing on the KLPGA tour, which has weekly competitions.

The best way for KLPGA players to gain experience in overseas competitions is to participate in domestic LPGA tour events. Even this road is blocked for KLPGA players, so now there is little way to experience the overseas stage. All you have to do is receive an invitation from a sponsor or secure a seed by simply going through Q-School. The LPGA Tour Q School schedule also coincides with the KLPGA Tour, so even this is not easy. This is why Yu Hae-ran, who broke through all the tight schedules last year and passed Q-School as the top student, is great.

When LPGA Tour players continued to win after Jeon In-ji won the championship in June of last year, the skeptical evaluation that the competitiveness of domestic players was now visible was dominant. 

It is an unavoidable reality. Young players born in the 2000s who stand out on the LPGA tour, such as Ataya Titikkun (Thailand) and Yin Luoning, went to school abroad from an early age and gained experience by playing in world competitions. Thailand and China encourage good players to advance overseas. This is why players who stay only in Korea cannot win. I don’t even have a chance to compete in the first place. In other words, the environment turns players into frogs in a well.

KLPGA players participated in the LET Aramco Saudi Ladies International held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia last February. This is thanks to the expansion of qualifications to the 300th place in the world rankings with the investment of Saudi capital. 

Some people said that the players competed because of money, but in reality it is not so. Of course, the big prize money was sweet, but it was one of the few tournaments in which players could play abroad. If it was simply because of money, the players would not have gone to Saudi Arabia, taking the trouble of going through overseas training camps.

The KLPGA insists that the tournament be held on the same day for players who do not participate when the LPGA Tour tournament is held in Korea. However, it is absurd to block the opportunity for players who dream of a big stage to participate in the BMW Ladies Championship.

Among Korean players active on the LPGA Tour, such as Koh Jin-young, Kim Hyo-joo, and Jeon In-ji, there are only a handful of players who advanced to the LPGA Tour through Q School. Recently, Yoo Hae-ran, Choi Hye-jin, and Anna Lin went through Q-School, but Ko Jin-young won the KEB Hana Bank Championship, Kim Hyo-joo won the Evian Championship, and Jeon In-ji won the US Women’s Open. 

In particular, the KEB Hana Bank Championship, won by Ko Jin-young, was an LPGA Tour event held in Korea. Ko Jin-young decided to advance overseas, and powerful juniors such as Park Min-ji, Kim Su-ji, Lee Ye-won, and Lee Da-yeon appeared and raised the KLPGA tour board.먹튀검증

Last week, the KPGA Korean Tour held the Korea Championship co-hosted by the DP World Tour. Kim Young-soo, who won the grand prize and prize money last year, is currently seeded for the DP World Tour. The Korean Tour is a measure to enhance its overseas competitiveness.

The Korean Tour players who were able to compete against the DP World Tour players at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea were delighted, saying, “It was an unexpected opportunity. I, who only have a domestic seed, can compete in overseas competitions.” 

In overseas competitions, the level of welfare, such as meals and training environment, is different from that in Korea. Experiencing such an atmosphere itself is a great addition to my career as a player. Although the Korea Championship was won by Pablo Larazabal (Spain), since it was held on a domestic course, the Korean Tour players were confident that a Korean Tour player could win. 

KLPGA players can no longer enjoy this joy. This year may be more disappointing. The BMW Ladies Championship this season will be held in Seowon Hills, Paju. Seowon Hills is very familiar with the KLPGA. KLPGA competitions were also held frequently, and it is also a place that provides welfare benefits to KLPGA members.

Why don’t ‘kids these days’ go on overseas tours? I’m hungry. I guess it’s because I don’t want to suffer. ‘Nowadays’ it’s not easy to go out on an overseas stage. Korea, a powerhouse in women’s golf, is losing its competitiveness.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *