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S. Korean golfer eyes move to LPGA after taking early tournament lead

All News 17:42 October 21, 2021

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Oct. 21 (Yonhap) -- South Korean golfer An Narin has signed up for the final stage of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament, colloquially known as Q-School, scheduled for next month in Alabama. She has always wanted to take her talent to the American tour.

But An just may be able to take a much shorter, direct path to the LPGA Tour.

An Narin of South Korea plays a shot during the first round of the BMW Ladies Championship at LPGA International Busan in Busan, some 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul, on Oct. 21, 2021, in this photo provided by the KLPGA. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

On Thursday, she took the opening round lead at the BMW Ladies Championship, the only LPGA event in South Korea this season, after shooting an eight-under 64.

If An wins this tournament as a non-LPGA member -- she has been playing on the Korea LPGA (KLPGA) Tour since 2017 -- she will earn full LPGA status for the following season.

"I started playing golf because I want to play on the U.S. tour," An, 25, said after taking a one-stroke lead over two players on Thursday. "That's why I entered the Q-School for this winter. I want to do well there. But if I can win this week and go straight to the LPGA Tour, then it's going to be so much better."

South Korea first hosted an LPGA event in 2002. Five South Korean players previously earned LPGA membership by winning previous iterations of the tournament under different title sponsors. The most successful case so far has been Ko Jin-young, who won the 2017 LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship as a KLPGA player and then became world No. 1 and LPGA Player of the Year by 2019.

An Narin of South Korea watches her tee shot at the 10th hole during the first round of the BMW Ladies Championship at LPGA International Busan in Busan, some 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul, on Oct. 21, 2021, in this photo provided by BMW Korea. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

An, who recorded two KLPGA wins last year, said her putter did all the work in the first round. She is second on the KLPGA Tour this year in putts per round with just under 29.7, and had 25 putts on Thursday.

"Greens here are a bit fast, but I like playing on fast greens," An said. "I was able to see lines really well today."

Asked if she had extra motivation for this week because an LPGA membership is at stake, An said, "I go into every tournament with the same mindset. I hope I can win this tournament."

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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