Danny Lee, the highest ranked amateur in the world, is no accident. The 2006 number one, Lee Won-Joon, is no fluke. The Korean Open champion Bae Sang-moon is no surprise. The Asian Tour’s leading rookie is Noh Seung-Yul…well, you get the picture.
And then there’s Anthony Kim. Those who saw his demolition of the once-leading pretender to Tiger’s throne, Sergio Garcia, in the Ryder Cup saw something special. It was confirmation that young Koreans, whether born at home or abroad, are the hottest items in golf.
There are sound reasons for the rise of Korean men. The Korean golfing market is bigger than the rest of Asia (outside of Japan) combined. The knock-on effect from the women’s success is immense. Facilities for juniors are improving; overseas cells of young golfers are starting to bear fruit (see sidebar) and then there are the intangibles that go with being Korean.
The American-born Kim was in Korea for the Hana Bank Kolon 51st Korea Open in October and relished the chance to play at “home”.
“I had a great time,” he said. “I obviously felt very welcome here with the Korean fans and they supported me the whole way through.”
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