Date: March 06, 2019
Author: Mark Hayes

Korea flexes #QueenSirikit muscle

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Click here for live scoring from the 2019 Queen Sirikit Cup.

It’s a new Queen Sirikit Cup, but already a familiar name shines brightly.

Korea, a winner 11 times in the past 12 editions of this Asia-Pacific women’s team championship, is already a five-stroke leader after a windswept day one at Glenelg Golf Club.

Only four individuals of the 41 who took to the Adelaide course returned sub-par scores and, demonstrating once more the peerless depth in Korean women’s golf, two of them were from the Asian superpower.

The format uses the best two scores from each nation’s three team members, meaning Ye-Been Sohn’s two-under 71 and Uhjin Seo’s 72 were more than enough to give Korea the whip hand again.

Encouragingly for the host nation, it’s one of three nearest in the chase at two over alongside New Zealand and pre-tournament fancy Japan.

Thailand, on the back of Yosita Khwanuna’s polished 72, is outright fifth at three over, while India and China share sixth at four over.

But the day belonged, as it has so many times in recent seasons, to the dominant Korean combination which, just in case it needed any extra firepower, is being coached this week by former US Women’s Open champion Birdie Kim, who also twice finished top three individually in the Queen Sirikit Cup in 1999 and 2000.

None of Seo, Sohn or Ye Won Lee have ever represented Korea internationally and, despite admitted nerves on debut, Sohn soon put paid to any fears.

The 17-year-old birdied the first, eagled the second and birdied the third to split the field wide open before the wind strengthened and unseasonal rain lashed Glenelg to toughen scoring around the pristine layout.

And while Sohn’s attack slowed to a day’s best 71, Seo kept coming all day and when she closed with a birdie, her 72 was the icing on a sweet Korean cake.

Seo, through a translator, said carrying the history of Korea’s success was both a blessing and a curse.

“The pressure (to match past achievements) is definitely a huge burden,” she said.

“But we just want to follow in their footsteps because it’s the way to be a successful.

“We’re tyring really hard to be like them, the LPGA players, and to follow the past Queen Sirikit players from Korea.”

The second day starts at 8.30am (Australian central daylight time) on Thursday morning, with the tournament decided after the third and final round on Friday.