Thursday, February 23, 2006

Aaaah, so that's why they're so good!

"Dexterity Enables Korean Lady Golfers to Dominate US LPGA"

By Kim Jeong-kyoo Korea Times Golf Columnist

LPGA.com, the official website of the U.S. Ladies Professional Golf Assoc. showed as of Sept. 18 that 10 South Korean lady golfers ranked in the top 30 of its official money list, indicating that South Korea is one of the golf powerhouses of the world.

Those posted on the top 30 LPGA money list are Jang Jeong, ranked 5th with earnings of $950,647; Lee Mee-na, 7th with $749,247; Gloria Park, 9th with $685,250; Birdie Kim, 10th with $663,914; Han Hee-won, 19th with $495,039; Kang Soo-yun, 21st with $457,941; Christina Kim, 25th with $421,060; Kim Mi-hyun, 26th with $415,527 and Kim Young, 28th with $379,889.

Some other brilliant players that should also be mentioned are Kang Ji-min, Grace Park, Yim Sung-ah, Kim Joo-mi and Ahn Shi-hyun.

Ahn, earning the title of 2004 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year, became the LPGA's fourth Rolex Rookie of the Year from South Korea, following Pak Se-ri, the first Korean who won the award in 1998, Kim Mi-hyun who wrapped it up in a row the next year and Han Hee-won who took the title in 2001.

Pak Se-ri, at the moment suffering from a long slump, once stormed onto the LPGA scene by winning 22 career victories including the U.S. Women's Open in 1998. She was the heroine who paved the way for South Korean golfers to advance into the U.S. LPGA Tour.

Without her providing motivation and establishing a firm foothold for her compatriot golfers who followed suit, it would be impossible to see the South Korean lady golfers who are now dominating the U.S. LPGA Tour.

What enables South Korean lady golfers to be so formidable in the U.S. LPGA Tour? It is nothing less than the Koreans’ talent to make things skillfully with their hands, a trait handed down from generation to generation for thousands years.

Celadon in Koryo and the Yi dynasty are world famous for blue and white china in quality, and you know that pottery involves the same skills as playing golf.

Not to change the subject, South Koreans’ special talent to make things skillfully with their hands is also believed to greatly contribute to their making almost a clean sweep of the World Skills Competition.

By the same token, Koreans are good at various sports that are played chiefly with the hands: handball, archery and table tennis, to name a few.

Professor Hwang Woo-suk of the Seoul National University who led the first cloning of embryonic human stem cells told in a public lecture that one of his assistants surprised the stem cell big shots of the world with his skills, which were beyond their imagination but actually nothing for Koreans.

Professor Hwang, referring to the use of chopsticks, mentioned that the Koreans’ skill with their hands contributed to their success in cloning embryonic human stem cells.

An editor golf fan of an English daily newspaper mentioned that one of the root causes for Korean ladies to play such great golf in the U.S. is closely connected to dexterity, which is also critical to preparing delicious Kimchi, a Korean side dish loved by the people around the world.

We all know that even when you use the same materials for Kimchi, it tastes different depending upon the hands that mix the materials.

This is why a so-called hand-taste or rather a typical taste created by the hands is heard frequently in Korea when it comes to preparing foods.

Japanese, who also use chopsticks like Koreans, once produced a golf great named Ayako Okamoto, who became a member of the LPGA Tour in 1981 and won 17 events between 1982 and 1992. She was recorded as the first woman from outside the U.S. to top the LPGA tour's money list in 1987.

Among Japanese golfers playing in the PGA of America is Shigeki Maruyama, who is often compared to South Korean golfer Kyung-ju Choi.

Despite this, the Japanese do not surpass Koreans in the golf world possibly because they do not attach as much importance to the hands in preparing foods. They use sashimi knife in preparing raw fish, their all-time favorite, instead of directly using hands as Koreans do.

Similarly, the Chinese do not distinguish themselves as much as Koreans in the LPGA tour of America because they do not stress the role of hands in making foods. Their food culture features fire. Mostly they use fire to create taste instead of using their hands.

Among Chinese golfers, Hong Mei Yang became the first Chinese player to win a tournament in the United States in April 2004 by capturing the IOS Futures Golf Classic in El Paso, Texas, the developmental circuit for the LPGA Tour.

Of course, there are some other factors that make all the great achievements possible including tenacity and indomitability, two characteristics of Koreans, along with quite a lot of synergy among the South Korean golfers. But without the dexterity unique to Koreans their great success would be hard to imagine.

09-26-2005 17:15


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