March 02, 2015 12:32
Amy Yang, also known as Yang Hee-young, has been touted as a golf prodigy since her teens, when she was training in Australia. People compared her to Pak Se-ri in terms of physique and swing technique, and to Michelle Wie for her potential to be a superstar.
But then, not long after her much-hyped LPGA Tour debut in 2008, hopes faded. Yang's work ethic was never in question, and she achieved a number of high-ranked finishes, but whenever she came close to the title she crumbled.
Her first LPGA title came in October 2013 in the KEB-HanaBank Championship, but she still failed to convince her then sponsor to renew her deal.
Yang admitted she was tired of golf and gave up three competitions towards the end of last season.
But the 2015 season saw a totally different Yang. She finished second in the Australian Women's Open last week, and won the Honda LPGA Thailand on Sunday.
In the final fourth round at the Siam Country Club in Pattaya, Yang hit five birdies and two bogeys to finish 15-under 273, two strokes ahead of runners-up Yani Tseng, Stacy Lewis and Lee Mi-rim.
With prize money of US$225,000, Yang is now at the top of the money list with US$412,358. Lydia Ko, who was the money leader until last week with US$315,897, did not take part in this event.
"I was mentally drained toward the end of last season, so all I wanted to do was rest," Yang says. She had lost hope of making all her hard work pay off. "After taking a break, I actually realized how much I love golf. I finished second last week in the Australian Open by missing two short putts. But I wanted to give myself another shot even if I make mistakes."
All four LPGA Tour events this season have been won by Korean golfers or golfers of Korean descent. Choi Na-yeon claimed the title of the season-opening Coates Golf Championship, Kim Sei-young won the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic, and Korean-New Zealander won the Australian Women's Open.
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