Yoo Ji-na (21, Tae Wang Honors) won the sixth round of the KLPGA 2023 M-CSquare-Gunsan CC Dream Tour (total prize money 100 million won, winner’s prize 15 million won) at the Buan (OUT) and Namwon (IN) courses of Gunsan Country Club (par 72/6,400 yards) in Gunsan, Jeollabuk-do.
After carding seven birdies and no bogeys in the first round to finish in a tie for second place with a 7-under 65, Yoo reeled off five birdies and an eagle in the second round to shave six strokes off her total to take the lead heading into the final round at 13-under 131.
Yoo also carded three birdies in the final round to finish at 16-under 200 (65-66-69), but after a 10-under-par first round, Sun Young Lee (23, On Off Golf) matched Yoo’s scorecard, sending the tournament into overtime.
The tie for the title was broken on the 18th hole in the fourth overtime, when Lee missed a 7-meter birdie putt while Yoo sank a 1.5-meter birdie putt to end the match and record her first professional victory.
Yoo said, “I’m very happy to win my first professional title. I didn’t even think about winning, but I think I played calmly without any pressure and it paid off,” she said, adding, “I would like to thank my parents for always supporting me, Taewang Honors Chairman Noh Ki-won and Director Noh Kyung-won, and Daegu Country Club President Woo Ki-jeong, and I would also like to thank the sponsors and the association for holding the tournament for the players.”
“Actually, it was really hard because I didn’t play well until the third round. After the third round, my mom told me, ‘You’re still young, do whatever you want to do,’ and that’s when I realized that I had lost my love for golf. After hearing her words, I felt a lot more relaxed, and unexpectedly, my scores started to improve in the fourth round. I think this victory is all thanks to my mom,” he said, revealing the driving force behind his victory.
Yoo, who has always loved sports, especially playing ball, and was a soccer player until the lower grades of elementary school, first picked up a golf club when she was in the fourth grade at the urging of her father. In 2017, at the age of 15, she won the 12th Jeollanam-do Governor’s Cup Girls’ Middle School Tournament and went on to become the No. 1 ranked player in the girls’ middle school division that year.
The pressure to continue her stellar performance in middle school led her to suffer from driver’s mouth, which she overcame with practice. Yoo joined the KLPGA as an associate member in April 2021, and her consistent performance on the Jump Tour earned her a promotion to full member in August of that year. She then participated in the ‘KLPGA 2022 Regular Tour Seeding Rankings’ held in November that year and shot 16-under-par 272 (68-69-69-66) over four days to earn a spot in the seeding and make her debut on the regular tour.
But the bar was high on the Regular Tour. With only seven missed cuts in 28 tournaments and a money list ranking of 98th, he failed to earn a seeding and was once again faced with a ‘race from hell’. After failing to qualify for the main draw due to shaky shots and putts, she spent the winter working hard to get back on the tour.메이저놀이터
“I traveled to Thailand for 50 days of training, playing rounds six days a week to get a feel for the game and working on my short game in the afternoons, especially my putts. I think I worked really hard on my putt because it was my biggest weakness that I identified through the regular tour last year,” she recalled of her winter training.
When asked about her goals for this season, Yoo said, “Before the season started, I wanted to win one Dream Tour event and return to the regular tour, but with today’s win, I accomplished one of my goals.” She added, “I will improve my technique a little more and win one more event in the second half of the season, and then I will try to win the Dream Tour money list.”