This week's KLPGA event is one of the most interesting tournaments each year, the only match play event on the schedule. Last year's tournament was a real corker: Ha Neul Kim beat In Gee Chun in a playoff in the quarters, outlasted Yoon Kyung Heo in the semis, then fell to Sul Ah Yoon (rather easily, alas) in the finals. Kim had five runner-up finishes last season but no wins, and this was one of her near misses.
Even the early rounds provided drama. They seed the tournament based on the previous year's money list, which means rookies tend to get thrown randomly into the mix. As it turned out, Kyu Jung Baek met her good friend Min Sun Kim in the first round. Kim beat Baek, then memorably consoled her emotional friend afterwards.
The action starts Thursday with the round of 64. Pairings soon to come!
Some interesting match ups: the two biggest rookie stars, Gyeol Park and Han Sul Ji, are going toe to toe in round one. Good possible match between up and coming Seon Woo Bae and former POY Je Yoon Yang. Jung Min Lee drew tour winner Da Na Kim in round one.
See the other most important players in bold below.
1st hole start:
1 조 1H 10:40 Seung Hyun Lee (16) Hyun Min Pyun (49) 3 조 1H 10:48 Chae Young Yoon (15) Hee Jung Joo (50) 5 조 1H 10:56 Bo Kyung Kim (14) Yoo Rim Choi (51) 7 조 1H 11:04 Ji Hyun Kim 2 (13) Sung Hyun Park (52) 9 조 1H 11:12 Hye Rim Kim (12) Bo Ah Kim (53) 11 조 1H 11:20 Yoon Ji Cho (11) Cho Hee Kim (54) 13 조 1H 11:28 Ran Hong (10) So Yi Kim (55) 15 조 1H 11:36 Hee Won Jung (9) Ji Hye Jang (56) 17 조 1H 11:44 Sul Ah Yoon (8) Min Jung Ko (57) 19 조 1H 11:52 Su Yeon Jang (7) Hye Jin Jung (58) 21 조 1H 12:00 Min Sun Kim 5 (6) Seon Hwa Lee 2 (59) 23 조 1H 12:08 Jin Young Ko (5) Se Mi Jo (60) 25 조 1H 12:16 Min Young Lee 2(4) Ji Ae Hwang (61) 27 조 1H 12:24 In Gee Chun (3) So Yeon Nam (62) 29 조 1H 12:32 Jung Min Lee (2) Da Na Kim (63) 31 조 1H 12:40 Yoon Kyung Heo (1) Ka Ram Choi (64)
10th hole start:
2조 10H 10:40 Ji Hyun Kim (17) Shin Young Park (48) 4조 10H 10:48 Ye Rin Kang (18) Su Hwa Jang (47) 6조 10H 10:56 Hyun Su Kim (19) Ji Hyun Oh (46) 8조 10H 11:04 Ji Hee Kim (20) Yuna Park (45) 10조 10H 11:12 Soo Jin Yang (21) Chae Rin Yang (44) 12조 10H 11:20 Hye Youn Kim (22) Min Sung Ha (43) 14조 10H 11:28 Seon Woo Bae (23) Je Yoon Yang (42) 16조 10H 11:36 Hee Kyung Bae (24) Ji Ram Kwon (41) 18조 10H 11:44 Char Young Kim 2(25) So Yeon Park (40) 20조 10H 11:52 Jung Eun Lee 5(26) Jung Min Cho (39) 22조 10H 12:00 Je Yoon Park (R) (27) Min Ji Kim 5(38) 24조 10H 12:08 Gyeol Park (R)(28) Han Sul Ji (R)(37) 26조 10H 12:16 Ji Young Park(R) 29) Hye In Yeom (R)(36) 28조 10H 12:24 Yeon Jung Seo (30) HJ Choi (35) 30조 10H 12:32 Song Yi Ahn (31) Hye Jung Kim (34) 32조 10H 12:40 Ye Jin Kim (32) Hye Jung Lee (33)
Quarter one main players: Yoon Kyung Heo (1), Seung Hyun Lee (16), Sul Ah Yoon (defending champ; 8); Char Young Kim (25)
Heo reached the semis last year, Yoon won it all. Those two are the most likely to face each other for the final four berth.
Quarter two main players: Min Young Lee (4), Ji Hee Kim (20), Jin Young Ko (5), Han Sul Ji (37), Gyeol Park (28), Soo Jin Yang (21)
This quarter is loaded. Min Young Lee is still coming back from cancer surgery, but Jin Young Ko is the only two time winner on tour this year. Gyeol Park and Han Sul Ji are both coming off top five finishes, and Soo Jin Yang has won this event in the past. I would expect Ko to be the one to get through, but it won't be easy.
Quarter three main players: Jung Min Lee (2), Da Na Kim (63), Song Yi Ahn (31), Chae Young Yoon (15), Ran Hong (10), Seon Woo Bae (23), Je Yoon Yang (42)
A lot of players with name appeal here, but Jung Min Lee, coming off a win and a former winner at this event, is a clear favorite. Seon Woo Bae has had a good year, as has Song Yi Ahn.
Quarter four main players: In Gee Chun (3), Bo Kyung Kim (14), Min Sun Kim 5 (6), Je Yoon Park (27), Hye Youn Kim (22)
Three of these players (Chun, Min Sun Kim and Bo Kyung Kim) have won on tour this year. Je Yoon Park is coming off a runner up last week, and Hye Youn Kim has also had a great year. Chun is playing great, but Min Sun Kim already took her down head-to-head a few weeks ago, so this one could be a tough quarter to get through.
Day one had some big upsets, some tight matches and some expected results.
Perhaps the biggest upset was the drubbing Yoon Kyung Heo took at the hands of Ka Ram Choi. It was never close, with Heo falling as much as 6 back before losing 5 & 4.
Defending champ Sul Ah Yoon also lost 2 & 1 to Min Jung Ko, and Seung Hyun Lee went out 2 & 1 to Hyun Min Pyun.
One great battle featured the rookie stars Gyeol Park and Han Sul Ji. Ji got three up by the turn, but Park fought back, taking a lead before Ji squared it again on 17. It went to 19 holes, where Park missed a five foot par save to hand the match to Ji.
In Gee Chun did not have an easy time of it against So Yeon Nam. Nam had a 2 up lead at the turn before Chun turned on the power. Chun won the next two holes, then Nam won one to briefly retake the lead. Chun said enough was enough, won three of the next four holes and took the match 2 & 1.
Speaking of tough battles, Se Mi Jo and Jin Young Ko had a classic one. All square on 18, Ko blew her birdie try six feet past the hole. Jo had a shorter birdie putt to win and was mid fist pump when it lipped out. Ko managed to gut out the par, forcing extra innings. She won it in 19 holes to advance.
Some big names got through without much fuss. Min Young Lee manhandled Ji Ae Hwang 5 & 4. Min Sun Kim got through 3 & 2 over Seon Hwa Lee 2.
Jung Min Lee advanced over Da Na Kim 3 & 2...
... while Bo Kyung Kim beat Yoo Rim Choi 2 & 1
Some other interesting results:
Ji Hyun Oh def Hyun Su Kim 2 & 1
Chae Young Yoon lost 1 down to Hee Jung Joo
Yuna Park def Ji Hee Kim 3 & 1
Soo Jin Yang def Je Rin Yang 3 & 2
Hye Youn Kim beat Min Sung Ha in 19 holes
Seon Woo Bae took down Je Yoon Yang 3 & 2
Char Young Kim also won in 19 holes over So Yeon Park
1 조 1H 10:40 Hyun Min Pyun(49) Ji Hyun Kim(17) 2 조 1H 10:48 Hee Jung Joo(50) Su Hwa Jang(47) 3 조 1H 10:56 Bo Kyung Kim(14) Ji Hyun Oh(46) 4 조 1H 11:04 Ji Hyun Kim 2(13) Yuna Park(45) 5 조 1H 11:12 Bo Ah Kim(53) Soo Jin Yang(21) 6 조 1H 11:20 Cho Hee Kim(54) Hye Youn Kim(22) 7 조 1H 11:28 So Yi Kim(55) Seon Woo Bae(23) 8 조 1H 11:36 Ji Hye Jang(56) Ji Ram Kwon(41) 9 조 1H 11:44 Min Jung Ko(57) Char Young Kim 2(25) 10 조 1H 11:52 Hye Jin Jung(58) Jung Eun Lee 5(26) 11 조 1H 12:00 Min Sun Kim 5(6) Je Yoon Park(27) 12 조 1H 12:08 Jin Young Ko(5) Han Sul Ji(37) 13 조 1H 12:16 Min Young Lee 2(4) Ji Young Park(29) 14 조 1H 12:24 In Gee Chun(3) Yeon Jung Seo(30) 15 조 1H 12:32 Jung Min Lee(2) Song Yi Ahn(31) 16 조 1H 12:40 Ka Ram Choi(64) Ye Jin Kim(32)
Match 12 pitting Jin Young Ko against Rookie star Han Sul Ji could be a great one!
Too many matches and not enough screen time for players I wanted to see. Also, it's so much better to watch match play in person, rather than on TV. Since they're not playing at Hamilton Farms GC, I'll have to settle for TV. BTW, that repetitive Descente commercial really stinks..the CG animated guy with the bad golf swing chasing after his ball in the air (first he's running straight, then he seems to be on 400m oval)...at the end, the ball has turned into a basketball and falls into a manhole...P.U.
At least Round 2 will have some of my favorites, like Soo Jin Yang...
...and Hye Youn Kim...
...and Jung Min Lee...it’s too bad that either she or Song Yi Ahn have to go home after tomorrow.
Friday was a day of upsets, as one star after another fell. Here are some of the results.
Jin Young Ko lost to Rookie star Han Sul Ji. Ji led their match pretty much all day, but won it when she chipped in for birdie to put Ko away 3 & 2.
Min Sun Kim is also gone. She lost to Je Yoon Park 2 & 1. Park came from behind, won 4 times on the back nine and claimed the win.
Jung Min Lee vs. Song Yi Ahn. Jung Min, a former champ, is also sent home; Song Yi Ahn won 2 & 1.
Hye Jin Jung vs. Jung Eun Lee 5: Jung lipped out on the final hole when she had a birdie to win. But she still won in 19 holes.
Some stars did manage to hold it together. Min Young Lee continues to cruise, beating her opponent Ji Young Park 7 & 6.
In Gee Chun vs. Yeon Jung Seo
Like on Thursday, In Gee got in the hole early and was three down by the tenth. But she rallied after that to take a one up lead. With two to play, it looked like she had it in the bag, but she missed a short par save on 17, allowing Seo to tie it up with one to play. On 18, Seo hit her shot over the green but got up and down. Chun had a twenty foot birdie try - and made it... No! Darn thing was all the way in the cup, then bubbled back out. I have rarely seen the ball be so in and still come back out. Extra holes!
Chun did win it in 19 holes, though, and will advance.
Yeon Jung Seo
Some other results:
Ji Hyun Kim shattered Hyun Min Pyun 7 & 6
Hee Jung Joo beat Su Hwa Jang 3 & 2 Bo Kyung Kim beat Ji Hyun Oh 2 up
Ji Hyun Kim 2 beat Yuna Park 1 up
Seon Woo Bae beat So Yi Kim 4 & 2
Ji Hye Jang beat Ji Ram Kwon 4 & 2
Char Young Kim beat Min Jung Ko 4 & 3
Bo Ah Kim beat Soo Jin Yang 3 & 2. Yup, even Soo Jin is out.
So here are the third round match ups. In Gee Chun and Bo Kyung Kim are the only players left who have won this year, and somehow end up getting matched in this round. Go figure! Note that Saturday will feature both the round of 16 and quarterfinal matches.
Ye Jin Kim vs. Ji Hyun Kim
Char Young Kim vs. Ji Hye Jang
Ji Hyun Kim has had the best season of these four, and Char Young Kim is the Big Star in this group. Char Young has actually had good results in this event in the past; I recall her getting to the finals one year.
Min Young Lee vs. Ji Hyun Kim 2
Han Sul Ji vs. Bo Ah Kim
Han Sul Ji is on a roll, but Min Young Lee has crushed her competition so far. Will Lee be able to play two rounds in a day so soon after her surgery?
Song Yi Ahn vs. Hee Jung Joo
Hye Jin Jung vs. Seon Woo Bae
Bae and Ahn have had good seasons this year, and Hye Jin Jung has appeared on a few leaderboards as well. This could be the strongest battle among the four brackets.
In Gee Chun vs. Bo Kyung Kim
Je Yoon Park vs. Cho Hee Kim
Bo Kyung and In Gee in a battle of 2015 winners. The other two are relatively green. But Park beat Min Sun Kim, so she may be formidable.
In Gee Chun vs. Cho Hee Kim. In Gee Chun won in 19 holes.
In Gee played brilliantly in the morning, making birdie after birdie, but in the afternoon she was off. She had one birdie and two bogies on the front, and only one birdie on the back. Her opponent was not playing much better, though, and Chun was able to hang onto a small lead most of the back nine.
In Gee had a one up lead going into 18 but must have hit one of her shots into the water, as it took her five shots to reach the green. She conceded the hole soon after. Playoff.
On the 10th hole, In Gee took an aggressive line over the bunkers on the right and got farther down the fairway. But Kim put her approach within three feet; Chun was about eight feet away with hers.
Chun calmly stepped up to the putt and drilled the birdie like a champion. Kim then stepped up to hers and missed, and the win was In Gee's.
Char Young Kim vs. Ji Hyun Kim - Char Young Kim in 19 holes.
This was another close match. Ji Hyun took the early lead, lost it, regained it, lost it again. As they played the final hole, they were all square.
Ji Hyun Kim putted from off the green and JUST missed the birdie. Char Young had a five footer from over the hole, and her putt missed and rolled about five feet past. But she made the par; playoff!
In the playoff it came down to a putting contest on the first playoff hole. Char Young had the longer putt, but Ji Hyun blew hers past two feet more and missed the par save. Char Young made the three foot par save and the win was hers.
Seon Woo Bae vs. Song Yi Ahn. Ahn won 2 & 1
It was close on the front nine, with Bae holding a light advantage. Ahn won holes 11-13 to take a 2 up lead and halved the rest of the holes to win.
Min Young Lee vs. Han Sul Ji. Ji won 2 up.
This one was a seesaw battle all day. On the front nine, only four holes were halved; on the back nine, only two. Ji held the lead at the turn, Lee caught her at ten, and it went back and forth until 18.
Ji had a one up lead with one to play, but Lee hit her approach on the par 5 18th closer. Ji hit a crappy chip shot to four feet. But Lee lipped out her putt from above the hole and it rolled a good bit by, indeed almost off the green. Lee missed the par and Ji claimed the match 2 up.
This is Song Yi Ahn's big chance to step up into the big time. She had eight top-10s in 2013, but has gone backwards since. She's also a decent substitute for the glam gap left by the departed Ha Neul Kim.
I really like this final four; a little bit of everything.
First, you have the superstar, In Gee Chun (and my personal favorite, so another plus! ). If she wins it all, can her Flying Dumbo Fan Club get even bigger?
Then there's Char Young Kim, the cool customer who has inherited the Model of the Fairways nickname. A very popular player who is trying to win for the first time since 2012. Even Min Sun Kim was following her around like a fan yesterday!
People have been talking a lot about Han Sul Ji, but she has only really come on strong the past couple of weeks. Could we be witnessing the birth of the next big name in Korean golf?
Then there's Song Yi Ahn. At 25, she is the old lady of the group. She's having a great year so far, but has never won. She has a really fun personality that adds a bit of levity to the tour.
Obviously I'm rooting hardest for In Gee, but good luck to all of the Sisters!!!