“It’s hard to believe that you’re playing on the number one tour. I didn’t expect it to come this soon.”
His heart was filled with excitement as he stepped onto the stage of his dreams. He also had high expectations of competing with the best players in the world. This is Yoo Hae-ran (21), who was honored to pass the LPGA tour as a senior.
In the final eight rounds of the LPGA Tour Qualifying (Q) Series, which ended on December 12 at the Highland Oaks Golf Course in Doseon, Alabama, USA, he reduced four strokes to take first place with a total of 29 under par and 545 strokes. This tournament is an “entrance exam” to compete for a tour card that is eligible for the LPGA.
Yoo Hae-ran, who was the next-generation leader in the Korea Women’s Professional Golf Association (KLPGA), proudly carved her name at the top of the leaderboard after 100 players took part in a hard march of 144 holes for two weeks. Yoo Hae-ran is evaluated as a promising player to revive the potential of Korean women’s golf, which has recently shown signs of stagnation in the LPGA.
Korean players only managed to win four times on the LPGA Tour this year. March HSBC Women’s World Championship Ko Jin-young (27), April Lotte Championship Kim Hyo-joo (27), May Bank of Hope LPGA Match Play Ji Eun-hee (36), June major tournament KPMG Women’s PGA Championship Jeon In-ji (28) won the championship got the trophy It is the lowest since 2011, when it recorded three wins. Compared to 2015, 2017, and 2019, which collected 15 wins, it is almost a quarter. After winning the Jeon In-gee championship, he is suffering from 16 consecutive tournaments.
Yoo Hae-ran, who is 176 cm tall and has stable skills, is considered the right person to revive the atmosphere of Korean women’s golf. She was born as the youngest of 3 boys and 1 girl. Yu Hae-ran grew up being petted from a young age. After learning how to hold a grip in kindergarten, she became interested in golf. She started playing golf when she was in the first grade of elementary school, and she grew rapidly under her professional guidance from the second grade. After she was in the fourth grade of elementary school, she built up her stamina by doing 1000 jump ropes before she hit the ball. “Even at such a young age, she really enjoyed the tough workouts,” her mother explains.
Having been active as a national representative for three years from 2016, he won 5 gold medals in amateur competitions in 2018 and drew attention as a big prospect. He also reached the top in the Kang Min-goo Cup, the best amateur golf tournament in Korea, which produced Hyo-joo Kim, Jin-young Ko, and Se-young Kim. He participated in the Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games in Indonesia in 2018 and won a silver medal in the team event with Lim Hee-jung and Jung Yun-ji. In 2019, at the age of 18, he jumped into the pro and won two consecutive tournaments in the second part of the tour, and immediately after winning two tournaments in a row, he climbed to the top at the KPGA Tour Jeju Samdasoo Masters as an invited player and received a splendid spotlight.
Recently, as the size of the KLPGA Tour prize money has increased, the number of players aiming to advance overseas has sharply decreased. The calculation that there is no guarantee of success by jumping into the LPGA tour and that there is no real point when it comes to tour expenses also had an impact.
Harmful eggs were different. SBS golf commentator Kim Jae-yeol said, “Yoo Hae-ran’s dream was to enter the LPGA, and he prepared for a long time, so I think he will do well.” said.
Professor Park Yeong-min of the golf department at Korea National Sport University, where Hae-ran Yoo is enrolled, said, “Hae-ran Yoo has stable play without ups and downs, and has all the qualities necessary to play a good game, such as long game, short game, mentality, and physical strength. He knows how to play smartly,” he said. Professor Park also said, “The greatest strength of all is sincerity. He added that he somehow made time to attend not only golf practice but also school classes.”
Hong Mi-young, executive director of Sema, who is in charge of Yoo Hae-ran’s management, said, “Yoo Hae-ran is planned enough to make a long-term plan in his career early on.” He was introduced to the American competition course, which was different from Korea, and studied English in his spare time to take on the Q series challenge. Koo Min-seok, deputy director of the Korea Golf Association, said, “When he participated in the Asian Games, Yoo Hae-ran was able to communicate in English.” His language skills are a great help to Korean players playing abroad. A golf commentator said, “I have no doubt that Haeran Yoo will become an important player who will show the power of Korean golf again.”
A steady pace is also a strong point of Yoo Hae-ran. He jumped into the KLPGA tour in earnest in 2020 and won the rookie award by climbing to second place in the prize money rankings (approximately 28 million won) without missing a cut in 17 tournaments. In 2021, he finished 5th in his prize money ranking (approximately 795 million won). This year, he missed the cut only once in 28 tournaments, finishing 2nd in average at-bats (70.57), 2nd in target points, and 4th in prize money (approximately 829 million won). He entered the top 5 in the prize money rankings for 3 consecutive seasons and has been winning every year since 2019, winning a total of 5 wins on the KLPGA Tour.
Yoo Hae-ran’s greatest strength is his long hit that exceeds 260 yards. Unlike domestic courses with many out of bounds (OBs) and narrow fairways in mountainous terrain, US golf courses have relatively few obstacles, which is expected to be advantageous for Hae-ran. He also said, “Korean golf courses are generally very narrow compared to American courses, so high shot accuracy is required. That helped me a lot in this competition.”
An official from TaylorMade, the contract company for Hae-Ran Hae’s club, said, “The average Trackman data for a player who uses a Stealth Plus driver is 100 mph club speed and a 14-degree launch angle. In the case of a driver, if there is a lot of backspin, the distance is lost, but the secret of Yu Hae-ran’s long hit is to lower the amount of spin, which is close to 3,000, to 2,600.” Hae-Ran always tries to hit the sweet spot, using only about 70% of his power to swing to maintain his accuracy. In the Q series, he used TaylorMade’s new iron P7MC, and he said that he saw the effect of smooth feel and improved consistency.
Park Jong-tae, CEO of Gado Golf, a monster shaft manufacturer, said, “As a result of driver analysis, Hae-Ran Yoo is 176 cm tall and has an arm length of 180 cm, creating a large swing arc with a long reach and securing long distance and direction more comfortably than anyone else.” The smash factor (the efficiency of energy transferred to the ball during impact) of the harmful egg was measured at 1.49, the highest value.
Yoo Hae-ran plans to do field training at the Mountain Creek Golf Course in Khao Yai, Thailand from January 10th to March 1st of the new year. He is with coach Yeom Dong-hoon, who coached him from elementary school until he became a national representative. I have been working with coach Yeom again since three months ago.
Coach Yeom, who has played in Australia and the United States, said, “Yoo Hae-ran is basically a long hitter, so I think he will focus on the wedge game and putts around 70 yards.” He intends to compensate for the disadvantage pointed out this year, namely, that it is difficult to control the amount of spin on wedge shots as the weight remains on the heel side.
Coach Yeom, who has watched Yoo Hae-ran since he was young and knows him better than anyone else, said, “He has a great fighting spirit that doesn’t want to lose. He gave out his favorite snapback hat or cubic ball marker as a gift to motivate himself if he failed on the first day of the competition, but he hit well the next day and burned a lot,” he laughed. In this Q Series, Yoo Hae-ran started the first round with a 1-over par tie for 61st, but as time passed, he improved his ranking. 메이저사이트
According to the LPGA Tour, Hae-ran Yoo is the seventh Korean player to pass the Q Series as first place since Pak Se-ri in 1997. At the time, Pak Se-ri was joint chief with Christie Kerr (USA). As for the recent record, ‘Hot Six’ Lee Jeong-eun in 2018 and Anna Lin last year entered the LPGA Tour with first place.
Korea has produced the LPGA Tour Rookie of the Year for five consecutive years. Starting with Kim Se-young in 2015, Jeon In-ji in 2016, Park Seong-hyun in 2017, Ko Jin-young in 2018, and Lee Jeong-eun in 2019 are the protagonists. However, after failing to select the Rookie of the Year due to the Corona 19 incident in 2020, Thai players won the award in turn last year and this year. In particular, in the 2022 season, Choi Hye-jin, who conquered the KLPGA tour, debuted on her LPGA tour, but it was regrettable that she could not establish a relationship despite her steady performance. Hyejin Choi finished her Q Series last year in a tie for 8th.
The high eye level of her surroundings and the goal of winning the Korean and American rookie of the year title at the same time can put a heavy burden on Yu Hae-ran’s shoulders. Nevertheless, he showed his desire for a bigger world with his unique bright expression. “It hasn’t been long since I was a rookie on the KLPGA Tour, but it feels new to be a rookie once again. I will go back to the beginning and run happily as usual.” Yoo Hae-ran’s motto is ‘Always never change’.