“It felt so good to play with such a great player, Unni.”
Bang Shin-sil, 19, the hottest rookie in recent memory, smiled broadly when asked about Choi Hye-jin, 24, with whom she played in the first round of the Korean Ladies Professional Golf Association (KLPGA) Tour’s E1 Charity Open ($900 million in prize money) at Seongmunan Country Club (Par 72) in Wonju, Gangwon Province, on Saturday. “It was helpful to be around someone I wanted to emulate.
Choi Hye-jin, who has become the “senior to follow” for Korean players, carded four birdies and two bogeys for a 2-under 70 in the first round and is tied for 12th place. Her 30 putts were a bit too many, but she saved herself from trouble with her savvy play, including a 3.74 approach stroke average.
After her first birdie on the fourth (par-5), Choi bogeyed the seventh (par-4). However, she birdied the ninth (par-5), placing her third shot about 0.8 meters from the hole. Not to be outdone, Choi birdied the 12th (par-3) and then the 16th (par-5). She bogeyed the 18th (par-5), but it wasn’t enough to catch up to the leader.
“I didn’t have a good flow at the beginning, but I had a good wedge shot, so I had a chance for a close birdie,” Choi said. “I started off shaky because I was playing in a domestic tournament for the first time in a long time, but as I played, I warmed up and remembered what I was used to, so I was able to relax. I hope to have more fun in the remaining rounds.”
Choi has lost weight since arriving in Korea last October to compete in the BMW Ladies Championship. “I gained a lot of weight in the U.S. last year,” Choi said. It was hard, so I ate less and exercised less. Last winter, I tried to keep my weight in line, and now I’m trying to maintain it by exercising while playing,” Choi explained.
Choi Hye-jin, who played on the LPGA Tour last year, said, “I was more satisfied with last year than this year because it went well from the beginning of the season, but this season I’m getting better as I play. I think it’s better to go from bad to better. Now that I have a major tournament coming up, I will focus even more.” 먹튀검증
Choi, who will also be competing in the Lotte Open following this tournament, said, “It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to greet my Korean fans. I’m a bold and confident player, and I don’t think I’ve been able to show that much lately. I will try to show my best by utilizing my style.”