Next generation golfers shine in opening matchesTwo young Korean golfers gained second place finishes in different professional golf tours over the weekend, further raising hopes for Korea’s future in golf.
Kevin Na, 21, the youngest player on the PGA Tour, finished second following a second playoff at the Chrysler Classic in Tucson, Arizona, on Sunday.
Meanwhile, 15-year-old high school sophomore Michelle Wie came in second in the LPGA season-opening SBS Open on her home island of Oahu, Hawaii, on Saturday.
It was Ms. Wie’s best finish after having six top-20 finishes in seven LPGA events last year, including fifth at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
Mr. Na also tied for second in the PGA Tour FBR Open on Feb. 7. He made his debut on the PGA tour in 2003.
Under pressure, he missed a 2.4-meter (8 foot) birdie putt, while Australian golfer Geoff Ogilvy made a difficult 5.4 meter putt on the second playoff hole. Mr. Na won 270 million won ($264,000) in prize money.
Mr. Na started the final round at 18-under par with Mr. Ogilvy, after finishing the first round at 5-under, the second round at 6-under and the third round at 7-under par.
He made par on the first 17 holes, but managed to birdie the 18th hole with a 28-foot uphill putt to get into the playoff.
Mark Calcavecchia, Mr. Ogilvy and Mr. Na started the playoff on the 18th hole, but Mr. Calcavecchia made a double-bogey and was eliminated from the competition.
On the same hole, Mr. Na teed off a bit short and sliced his approach shot close to the greenside stand. His chip shot rolled into the rough but he managed to save par with an 8-meter putt.
On the second par-5 playoff hole, tee shots by both Mr. Na and Mr. Ogilvy settled behind trees. Mr. Na’s second shot approached the fringe at the back of the green and he was given the opportunity for a 2.4-meter birdie, while Mr. Ogilvy drove out of the rough and had a chance for 5.4-meter birdie putt.
Mr. Na missed the putt while Mr. Ogilvy ended the game with a long-distance birdie to win the second playoff hole.
Ms. Wie was tied with Cristie Kerr at second with a 6-under par, behind Jennifer Rosales of the Philippines, who shot an 8-under.
Ms. Wie was the lone amateur player and the only player to shoot under par for three rounds in difficult weather conditions with strong winds. She finished each of the three rounds at 2-under par.
“I’ve grown a lot as a person and a golfer,” she said after the game. She improved in managing the game, in her concentration and in the short game, Ms. Wie said.
She would have earned $78,787 if she had turned pro, and when asked what she thought about the prize money she missed, she said, “That’s not too much.”
by Limb Jae-un, Sung Ho-jun