South Korea is the locale of this week’s event – part two of the three-week Asian swing – for the KOLON-Hana Bank Championship. This was previously called the CJ Nine Bridges and I’d rather wish they kept the old name, lest I be tempted to make bad-taste references to the new moniker. Anyway, rookie Jee Young Lee is the defending champion – she made the field last year as a member of the KLPGA.
They’ll be playing at the Mauna Ocean Golf & Resort in Ulsan/Gyeongju, not the same venue as last year. Other than being a par-72 and 6381 yards, I don’t have any info on the course’s characteristics. The weather will be very different from last week’s sweltering heat – highs in the mid-to-upper 60s, which should be an improvement over the bitter cold the players had to endure in Korea last year.
The field consists of 69 players, 19 of whom are KLPGA members trying to repeat Petunia’s achievement. Seven other players made the field through sponsor’s exemptions, including the lovely and talented Grace Park. I’m not expecting a win or even a Top 10 out of Grace this week, but three solid rounds without one of those 77s would be nice. Most of the LPGA players here were also in the Thailand field, but the addition of Paula Creamer, Jeong Jang and Seon-Hwa Lee (not to mention the capable group of locals) more than offset the absence of Cristie Kerr and make this field a bit stronger than last week.
Despite my recent poor performance in picking the outright winner (missed eight in a row!), I’ll continue to forge ahead and choose Paula Creamer to win. Jeong Jang and Hee-Won Han are my CYA picks. Stats: Winners 1-11 (7-11 with CYAs), Top Tens 24-34.