Already 37 years old. The eldest of the South Korean players, Ji Ji-hee Lee proved herself to be a veteran, not an old hand, with her tireless physical strength, mental toughness, and seasoned game management.
It was the first day of group play at the Bank of Hope Match Play on the U.S. Women’s Professional Golf (LPGA) Tour at Shadow Creek Golf Club (Par 72) 메이저놀이터 in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.A., on Aug. 25. Ji-hee Lee (KOR) took an early three-hole lead on the 16th hole against Matilda Kastren (FIN). It’s a great start to her second straight appearance in the tournament.
“I didn’t feel so good today, but I was lucky,” said Ji-hee, who won the event last year to improve her career record to six wins and become the oldest South Korean player to win the event (36 years, 17 days). “I played with the mindset of saving shots even if I didn’t feel good. Even though I was being chased, I hit it confidently.”
“Fortunately, my opponent didn’t seem to have a good feeling either, so I had an easy time,” he said. “I think I have an advantage because I remember playing well last year and I know where to send the ball. I’m going to play the rest of the match with a lot of nerves.”
Stamina is key Ji-hee is so dedicated to self-care that she still trains after each match. Even in match play, where she has to play seven games to win, her stamina is not an issue.
Along with Ji-hee, Shin Ji-eun also won a three-hole victory over Anna Lin in the Korean Head to Head.
“Match play is a mental game,” said Shin, “and it’s important to hold on, and I did that today. Winning the first game is a great confidence booster, so I will continue to focus on my game and stay strong in the remaining matches.”
Along with Annarin, Hae-ran Hae, Se-young Kim, Arim Kim, and Ye-eun Hong all suffered defeats, putting their chances of advancing to the round of 16 in jeopardy.
The tournament is organized in the same way as the Doosan Match Play Championship on the Korean Ladies Professional Golf Association (KLPGA) Tour.
A total of 64 players will compete in 16 groups of four. Only the first place finisher in each group will advance to the round of 16.
If Eunhee succeeds in defending her title, it will be the first time in a long time that a Korean player has won two consecutive LPGA Tour titles. Following the resurgence of Ko Jin-young, the eldest sister’s efforts could also serve as an inspiration to other Korean players.