The strength of women’s golf in Korea was evident with all five places in the final qualifying for this week’s Pegasus New Zealand Women’s Open secured by young professionals from the game’s superpower.
Twenty-eight players were chasing the final five spots up for grabs for the New Zealand Open at Waitikiri Golf Club in Christchurch today.
Eighteen year old Hee Kyung Bae set the pace with a four-under 68 today to top qualifiers, one shot ahead of compatriot Hee Won Jung and Korean-based New Zealander Yeon Song Kim.
Bae emerged in Korea last year when she became the first amateur in six years to win on the Korean Ladies Professional Golf Association when she took out the LIG Classic.
Now a professional Bae produced a classy display to secure her place in the field for the New Zealand Open, a co-sanctioned event between the Australian Ladies Professional Golf and the Ladies European Tour.
There was a New Zealand feel to the day in the form of Kim, who was educated at Rangitoto College on the North Shore and won the New Zealand Strokeplay title at Muriwai in 2006. She competed for New Zealand at the Junior Tasman Cup in 2006 and the following year in the Commonwealth Tournament and Tasman Cup before returning to Korea to turn professional. She is now playing on the minor Dream Tour in Korea.
The final two spots went to Song E An and Jimin Jeong, an accomplished player on the LPGA. Jeong, a former Korean Junior and College champion, won on the Duramed Futures Tour in the US in 2007 before spending the last three years on the LPGA where she has two top-10 finishes.
The first three alternates were also Korean professionals with the leading amateur Pakuranga club and Auckland representative Mun Chin Keh who shot a three-over 75.
Tomorrow is practice day at Pegasus Golf Club ahead of the Pro-Am on Wednesday with tournament proper starting on Thursday.
Leading scores, Waitikiri GC, par 72
68 Hee Kyung Bar (KOR)
69 Jee Won Jung (KOR), Yeon Song Kim (NZL)
71 Jimin Jeong (KOZR), Song E An
73 Jinsil Choi (KOR), Minsum Kim (KOR)
65 Mun Chin Keh (am, Pakuranga)
77 Yejin Na (KOR), Heiji Kim (KOZR), Jinah Kong (KOR)
Pegasus is a new resort town for up to 7,000 people being built 25 kilometres north of Christchurch, New Zealand’s second largest city. The town, on 420 hectares bordering the beaches of Pegasus Bay in North Canterbury, is part of the Waimakariri District.
Pegasus has been designed to create a community built on a remarkable array of recreational features – a 14 hectare feature lake with 11 sandy and pebbled beaches, a filtered and temperature-controlled swimming bay, natural rock hot pools, 18-hole championship golf course and sports club, restaurants, cafés and bars, primary and pre schools, shopping districts, a superb beach with dedicated surf club, yacht club and recreation hire centre, KidZone adventure park, equestrian centre and much more.
Pegasus is being developed by Infinity Investment Group Holdings Ltd, an experienced Wanaka-based property investment and development company currently carrying out $1.5 billion of development projects in the South Island.