Women Golfers Get Their Own Pro Tournament At Cheju IslandKorean golf fans got a big Chuseok present last week when Se Ri Pak nabbed her fifth tournament title of the year and Grace Park took third at the AFLAC Champions match in Mobile, Alabama. Considering the many successes rung up by Korean women in LPGA tournaments in recent years, the upcoming Sports Today Cheil Jedang Nine Bridges Classic, to be held Oct. 19-21 at Cheju Island, almost seems like an afterthought.
But with this inaugural event in Cheju, Korea joins Britain, Canada, Australia, France and Japan as hosts of official U.S. Ladies Professional Golf Association tournaments. Though a first-time event, the Nine Bridges Classic's purse of $1.5 million, third highest of LPGA tournaments, promises that it will eventually emerge as a major event.
Stars such as Annika Sorenstam, Juli Inkster and Karrie Webb will be among the 84 golfers who will tee off next week at Cheju's new Nine Bridges golf course. In addition to Grace Park, past LPGA Rookies of the Year Se Ri Pak, Mi-Hyun Kim and Hee-Won Han will be the local stars sure to have many hometown fans in the galleries. In addition, the top-20 ranked members of the Korean Ladies Professional Golf Association will also be eligible to compete against the world's best female golfers.
The new 72-par course at the foot of the west ridge of Cheju's Mount Halla was designed by the California-based golf course architects Ronald Fream and David Dale. The theme that guided the crafters was preservation; they sought to make an environmentally friendly resort that drew on the natural features of the island and the mountain. It will also be the first Korean golf course boasting Bentgrass on all of its greens and fairways.
The tournament will give spectators the chance to see up close Sorenstam's technically-perfect swings, Pak's stellar iron shots and Kim's marvelous drives. It will also be an opportunity to show that Korea's golf culture has made significant strides.
The official tourist agency of the tournament, C4tour, is inviting golfing buffs and other vacationers to enjoy the event through all-inclusive attendance packages. Other spectators will need to pay 20,000 won ($15) for admission to the galleries for the first and second rounds and 40,000 won for the final round. A pass for all three days can be bought for 60,000 won. For more information visit www.c4tour.com or
www.ninebridge.co.kr (English available).
by Rhee Hyun-ju