Hwang Yeon-seo, 20, a rookie on the Korean Ladies Professional Golf Association (KLPGA) Tour this year, is having a disastrous season.
In 23 tournaments, she has only made the cut and won money four times. She missed the cut 18 times and withdrew once.
With only $35.3 million in prize money, he’s dropped to 104th on the money list, meaning he won’t even be seeded for next year.
His 72nd place fairway stroke percentage (70.578%), 102nd place greens in regulation (65.19%), 78th place strokes gained (30.79), and 102nd place stroke average (74.06) show that he’s not doing anything right when he’s on the course.
After finishing 31st at the McCall-Mona Yongpyong Open on July 9, he had a nightmare run of three straight cuts, a withdrawal and another four cuts in his last nine tournaments.
The cause was back pain.
“My back has been bothering me since the beginning of the season and I’ve been unable to swing properly. Her back pain, which seemed to improve over the summer, returned at the start of the second half of the season.
Hwang shot a 5-under 67 to take a one-shot lead after the first round of the KLPGA Tour’s Daebo Household Open (total prize money: 1 billion won) at Seowon Valley Country Club (par 72) in Paju, Gyeonggi-do, on Sept. 29.
It was Hwang’s second round in the 60s this year, following a second-round 67 at the McCall-Mona Yongpyong Open.
With a one-stroke lead over Park and Kim, Yeon-seo Hwang topped the leaderboard for the first time in a KLPGA Tour event.
Not only did she break the chain of missed cuts, but she also set the stage for a miraculous “last place revolt” that would secure her seeding for next year.
Hwang’s shot was still shaky on the day, as she missed the green six times. However, she recovered from all six bogeys.
“My back is much better these days,” said Hwang, who finished with five birdies and no bogeys. Thanks to that, my shot feeling has improved a lot,” she said.
“I’m trying to increase my distance because the course is getting longer these days,” said Hwang. “My driver shot, which used to fly about 200 meters, has increased by about 15 meters. Today, I was able to get the distance I wanted and still stay in the fairway, which made it easier to play.”
The surprise leader, Hwang Yeon-seo, said, “The most important thing is to stay in the fairway from the tee. I will continue to focus on the process and play like I did today.”
Park’s four birdies and one bogey put her three strokes back and in contention for the title.
“I don’t think this course suits me well,” Park said. Compared to last year, it’s longer and the greens are faster, so it’s more challenging and difficult,” Park said, adding, “My shots have been shaky lately, but I found my groove late in the round. I was able to finish with a birdie on the last hole to end the first round on a high note.”
Kim made six birdies to go along with three bogeys.
Madasom and Sung Yoo-jin are tied for fourth at 2-under 70.
Kim, Lee, So Mi Lee and Kim Min Byul shot 1-under 71 to keep the chase alive.
Defending champion Song Ga-eun was three strokes off the pace for her second straight victory.
Lee Ye-won, who leads the money and points standings, also fell short with a 2-over-par 74.
2021 champion Park Min-ji 안전놀이터 and three-time defending champion Park Ji-young finished the first round in a tie for 29th place (1-over par 73).
Hwang Yoo-min withdrew, while Bang Shin-sil shot a 3-over-par 75.
Kim, who has won $3,954,000 this season, won a luxury watch worth $33 million for her hole-in-one at the par-3 second hole.
Her 6-iron tee shot from 160 yards went into the hole.
“I had a hole-in-one once on the Dream Tour, but there were no spectators and no prizes,” said Kim, who was delighted with her first hole-in-one on the KLPGA Tour.
Kim shot an even-par 72 with one birdie and three bogeys.