The 2007 three-week Asian swing begins this Friday at the Hana Bank – KOLON Championship. The Mauna Ocean Golf & Resort in Yangnam, Korea will host this event for the second straight year. Jin Joo Hong won last year by three strokes over Jeong Jang. None of the Asian events will be carried on U.S. television.
Mauna plays at par of 72 and was setup at 6381 yards a year ago. It was the only one of the three Asian tournaments where the players averaged over par – 73.328, to be exact.
The LPGA elite are well represented in this field – Ochoa, Pettersen, MH Kim, Pak and Kerr are the headliners – and as usual there will be a full contingent of KLPGA’ers. Ji-Yai Shin is the most prominent of those, with an amazing seven victories on that Tour this year. Hye Jung Choi, an exempt player in the U.S., is coming off a victory at last week’s Hite Cup Championship. Eun Hee Ji is a non-exempt LPGA player who has had great success playing in front of the home folks – two wins and seven runner-up finishes. Last year, three of the Top 10 and five of the top 21 finishers were non-LPGA regulars. Even more telling are the facts that 16 of those top 21 players are of Asian descent, and that all five of these Korean events have been won by Korean players. More info on the KLPGA players can be found at the KLPGA web site.
Hold onto your hats. I’m not going to pick Ochoa this week. Mainly because of the expected jet lag and the fact this event is only 54 holes, I’m going to relegate Lorena to CYA status this week along with Angela Park. Ji-Yai Shin is my choice to win (…a poet and didn’t know it).
Stats: Winners 7-25 (10-25 with CYAs), Top Tens 40-73.