‘Players Who Lost Their Long Strokes’… Park Sung-hyun and Lee Jeong-hyun are 6-over par, so it’s even harder to get out of a slump [Golf Story by Oh Tae-sik]
Font Text text one level larger Text text one level smaller Print text
Seven-time LPGA champion Park Sung-hyun last won a title at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in June 2019, and her “top-10” finish disappeared after a tie for eighth at the AIG Women’s Championship in August that year.안전놀이터
In the midst of her seventh career victory, Park set a new record in LPGA Korean golf history: the longest drive. Park averaged 275.54 yards in 2019, which at the time was the longest drive ever hit by a Korean woman golfer and ranked sixth on the LPGA’s driving distance list.
Park has been widely recognized as a long hitter since she entered the LPGA. She finished seventh in 2017 (270.63 yards), sixth in 2018 (269.80 yards), and sixth in 2019, earning three consecutive top-10 longest drives.
However, a shoulder injury then began to diminish his longest drive. He dropped to 30th (260.77 yards) in 2020, 38th (263.24 yards) in 2021, 41st (263.53 yards) in 2022, and now 109th (254.93 yards) this year.
His decline coincides with the time when his long ball power began to fade.
After briefly showing signs of resurgence last year, Park has been in a serious slump this season, missing the cut five times in six tournaments.
Lee Jung-eun, 6. <Photo AFP Yonhap
While not as bad as Park, Lee Jung-hyun has also been in a terrible slump this year. In six tournaments this year, she has missed the cut in her last four events.
Lee has also shown no signs of breaking out of her slump as her driving distance has dropped significantly. In 2019, when Lee burst onto the LPGA scene as the Rookie of the Year, she ranked 34th in driving distance (265.47 yards). It wasn’t a blazing long shot, but it was more than enough to compete with the more athletic Western players. He played mostly domestically in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic and slipped a bit in 2021 to 46th (261.65 yards) before dropping to 75th (257.75 yards) in 2022 and 115th (253.13 yards) this year.
It’s hardly a slump, but Kim Se-young, who was once the “one-two punch” of Korean women’s golf alongside Ko Jin-young, has also seen her stroke count slip, and her chances of winning have also slipped.
After starting 2015 as a rookie with a 10th-place finish (263.02 yards), Kim moved up to fourth in 2016 (272.33 yards), dropped back to 18th in 2017 (264.59 yards), and remained in the top 20 in longest drive from 2018 to 2021. However, she fell back a little further last year to 32nd (265.42 yards) and this year she is 45th (264.71 yards) in the top 40 in longest drive. She’s hitting similar distances as she did when she first joined the LPGA Tour, but she’s slipping down the longest hitter list as more long hitters from around the world come to the LPGA.
Se Young Kim. <Photo AFP
Kim, who had 14 top-25 finishes last year, including five “top-10s” despite not winning, has struggled to make an impact this year, with no top-10s and a tie for 20th in six events.
Perhaps the worst of the players who have lost their power is Jang Ha-na, a former LPGA Tour player who is now playing domestically.
In 2017, when she returned to the KLPGA Tour, Jang ranked 21st in driving distance (251.00 yards). She went on to finish 18th in 2018 (247.63 yards), 13th in 2019 (246.80 yards), 6th in 2020 (248.25 yards), and 11th in 2021 (245.78 yards) to become the KLPGA’s all-time leader with 20 career wins. However, last year, Jang’s longest drive ranking dropped to 52nd (236.90 yards), and this year, she plummeted to 120th (206.21 yards), the lowest among the players on the list.
The sudden loss of her long-hitting ability has left her in a vicious cycle of withdrawals and missed cuts. Last week, she earned 3.19 million won for her participation in the Doosan Match Play Championship, her 18th tournament since the Hi One Resort Women’s Open in August last year.
It is the law of nature that you grow older with each passing year, and it is also the law of nature that your physical strength will decrease if you do not take special care of your body. Everyone is bound to lose a little distance. The problem is that a long-hitting athlete who suddenly loses distance can be shocked and mentally break down. It”s even harder for a player who has lost their long game to get out of a slump.
However, there are quite a few players on the LPGA Tour, such as Mo Martin (USA), who have been successful despite their shorter distances. Whether you’re a long hitter or a short hitter, there are ways to make it work.
It’s up to you to decide if you’re going to give up or if you’re going to try something different.