CLOSINGS: View Closings

Sung Hyun Park, 10,000 fans and South Korean dominance

Amin Moh wears a jacket with the name of her idol stitched into the back, while Eun Sun Kim sports a homemad...

Posted: Sep 14, 2018 1:42 PM
Updated: Sep 14, 2018 1:42 PM

Amin Moh wears a jacket with the name of her idol stitched into the back, while Eun Sun Kim sports a homemade vest bearing the image of their shared hero.

It's the kind of devotion usually inspired by rock stars. But Sung Hyun Park, the subject of this adoration, is not a musician.

Asia

Continents and regions

East Asia

Golf

Inbee Park

LPGA

Southeast Asia

Sports and recreation

Sports figures

Sports organizations and teams

Taiwan

Thailand

South Korea

Park is a golfer, albeit one whose talents are deemed so extraordinary by some that they are attracting a legion of dedicated fans in her native South Korea.

She's the No. 1-ranked women's golfer in the world and has earned the nickname "Tiger" as a nod to the force of nature that ruled the men's game for so long.

Her breakthrough win came at the 2017 US Open, a major success she backed up with victory at this year's Women's PGA Championship.

And her triumphs are making an impact back home. Moh and Kim are not lifelong golf fans; they have both been drawn to the sport by Park's achievements, part of a 10,000-strong, flag-waving fan club.

READ: Cheyenne Woods stepping out of Tiger's shadow

Park, Moh and Kim have all traveled to Evian, a town in the shadow of the French Alps which sits on the shores of Lake Geneva.

It plays host to the Evian Championship, the fifth and final major of the women's golf season and another chance for Moh and Kim to catch a glimpse of Park in action.

Moh admires Park's "powerful, gorgeous swing," and says she is the reason why she started playing the game. She used to follow Park all around Korea and, now her idol plays mainly abroad, tries to attend the majors.

"I want to make my swing like hers," explains the 33-year-old Moh. "It's impossible, I know, but I'm trying to."

Kim first saw Park on TV and thought, "wow." Her face lights up as she recalls her trip to Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey for last year's US Open.

"I joined the victory, the moment," she explains through a wide grin. "It was great!"

Park is part of a Korean vanguard. As of September 10, 38 Korean golfers sit inside the top 100 of the women's rankings, with five inside the top 10 and seven inside the top 20.

Since 1998, Korean women have won 28 major championships. The country boasts its own thriving golf circuit, the LPGA of Korea Tour, and, according to Moh and Kim, the women's game is more popular than the men's back home.

It's a view backed up by Mike Whan, commissioner of the US-based LPGA Tour which is seen as the elite women's golf circuit.

He suggests this explosion of Korean talent was triggered, in part, by the success of Se Ri Pak, who recorded 39 professional wins -- 25 on the LPGA Tour -- including five major championships won between 1998 and 2006.

She was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2007 before retiring in 2016.

"I view it as a wave," Whan told CNN. "Right now, you're dealing with Korea having a wave that happened about 10 or 15 years ago that really created interest in golf."

Whan says the LPGA Tour is more popular among Koreans than the men's PGA Tour, viewed as golf's sporting and financial pinnacle.

Thanks to this wave, the LPGA has "Korean sponsors sponsoring events in San Francisco," explains Whan, an illustration of the country's interest in the success of its many female golfers.

Alongside Park, the likes of seven-time major winner Inbee Park, 2017 British Open champion I K Kim and So Yeon Ryu -- who has two major victories to her name -- are laying down a challenge for their competitors to meet.

READ: Lydia Ko climbing back to the top

Inbee Park has grown accustomed to seeing Korean fans at golf courses all over the world and takes pride in what she and her compatriots have achieved in the sport.

The 30-year-old believes the success of her and her peers has helped the women's game supersede the men's in Korea.

"We have a lot of good fans in women's golf, it's bigger than men's golf in Korea," she told CNN. "So I think that explains a difference with other countries.

"I think it's because we've been playing very well and becoming the No. 1 players in the world really helped it."

Despite the current spell of Korean dominance, players like Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn are making their mark.

Jutanugarn is only 22 but she has already topped the world rankings, thanks in part to wins at the US and British Opens.

And Whan suggests he is already seeing the impact of her success in Thailand, while also highlighting Taiwan's Yani Tseng -- winner of five majors between 2008 and 2011 -- as an inspiration in her homeland.

"I'm watching that same wave happen right now in Taiwan or Thailand," says Whan. "Right now, you only see a handful of Thai players on the LPGA, a couple at the top of the world rankings.

"But what I see when we go to Thailand is that the future of women's golf in Thailand is like nothing before.

"When I go to our qualifying school, I don't see two people from Thailand, I see 20 people from Thailand. Same thing is true of Taiwan. Ten years ago, there was Yani (Tseng) from Taiwan, today there's a tour there."

For now, Korea is still the dominant force. But it remains to be seen whether devotees from Taiwan and Thailand will be traveling the world in years to come.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 455783

Reported Deaths: 6166
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin945441502
Ramsey40698749
Dakota33623354
Anoka31398368
Washington20579237
Stearns18111190
St. Louis14006251
Scott1221199
Wright11811107
Olmsted1083075
Sherburne831270
Carver705639
Clay660684
Rice624774
Kandiyohi558772
Blue Earth549533
Crow Wing490678
Otter Tail464968
Chisago460438
Benton423788
Winona394948
Douglas379766
Nobles374847
Mower374429
Goodhue358163
Polk330760
McLeod328647
Beltrami316148
Morrison314645
Lyon306139
Becker289439
Itasca287843
Isanti286143
Carlton284443
Steele279510
Pine270515
Freeborn254723
Todd233730
Nicollet230538
Brown218634
Mille Lacs215745
Le Sueur214416
Cass210824
Meeker201533
Waseca193316
Wabasha17483
Martin172026
Roseau166517
Hubbard151138
Redwood141327
Houston140314
Dodge13974
Renville138540
Chippewa133232
Cottonwood129118
Fillmore12778
Wadena120818
Rock112012
Aitkin111533
Faribault110116
Sibley11017
Watonwan10698
Pennington101016
Kanabec99818
Pipestone97223
Yellow Medicine95016
Murray9137
Jackson87310
Swift84718
Pope7485
Stevens7078
Marshall70415
Clearwater68814
Lake66415
Lac qui Parle66116
Wilkin63510
Koochiching60810
Lincoln4912
Big Stone4703
Unassigned43968
Grant4388
Norman4268
Mahnomen4167
Kittson37420
Red Lake3204
Traverse2623
Lake of the Woods1981
Cook1160

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 312194

Reported Deaths: 4433
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk46975465
Linn18114279
Scott15900172
Black Hawk14123243
Woodbury13145181
Johnson1231752
Dubuque11651159
Pottawattamie9182115
Dallas910872
Story883538
Cerro Gordo474372
Webster473377
Warren461539
Sioux460457
Clinton459168
Marshall432262
Buena Vista397230
Muscatine396578
Des Moines395543
Plymouth353670
Wapello351798
Jasper333359
Lee326932
Marion310853
Jones275250
Henry269131
Carroll258934
Bremer250448
Crawford235824
Washington224133
Boone223517
Benton213950
Mahaska198637
Jackson195332
Tama190959
Dickinson189229
Kossuth180944
Delaware176536
Clay173021
Wright167624
Fayette166324
Hamilton162530
Buchanan162324
Winneshiek161020
Harrison158762
Hardin157831
Cedar155819
Clayton153949
Butler152324
Page148115
Floyd141936
Cherokee140327
Mills138517
Lyon137933
Poweshiek135424
Hancock132424
Allamakee131530
Iowa128022
Madison124210
Calhoun12379
Grundy122828
Jefferson122425
Winnebago122329
Mitchell117137
Louisa116430
Cass115343
Chickasaw113812
Appanoose113040
Sac112815
Union111723
Emmet111332
Humboldt107819
Shelby106427
Guthrie104624
Franklin103618
Unassigned10210
Palo Alto92611
Montgomery89224
Keokuk86426
Howard85919
Monroe82620
Clarke8199
Pocahontas78711
Ida76430
Davis70421
Adair69720
Greene6977
Monona68418
Lucas66910
Osceola65011
Worth6224
Taylor6009
Fremont5276
Van Buren50515
Decatur4994
Ringgold45511
Audubon4258
Wayne42021
Adams3023
Rochester/St. Mary'S
Cloudy
17° wxIcon
Hi: 22° Lo: 13°
Feels Like: 10°
Mason City
Clear
wxIcon
Hi: 19° Lo: 10°
Feels Like: -4°
Albert Lea
Clear
10° wxIcon
Hi: 17° Lo: 10°
Feels Like: 10°
Austin
Clear
12° wxIcon
Hi: 19° Lo: 13°
Feels Like: 12°
Charles City
Partly Cloudy
12° wxIcon
Hi: 19° Lo: 11°
Feels Like: 3°
Cold and dry through Friday
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Just for Kix's "virtual" Winter recital

Image

New grant available for Iowa bars and restaurants

Image

Is hydrogen the future of fuel in Minnesota?

Image

Gov. Walz unveils two-year state budget proposal

Image

Pandemic impact on youth suicide

Image

Bernie Sanders Mittens

Image

Minnesota Recovery Budget

Image

Human Trafficking Awareness

Image

Rochester Civic Music Concert

Image

Dry January Slowing Liquor Sales

Community Events