Suji Kim (27, Dongbu Engineering & Construction) feels that the new year is short. It is because he has been working on a tight schedule every day since he left the country in January and started training in Vietnam. His training location is the FLC Samsun Golf Resort in Thanh Hoa, a three-hour drive from Hanoi, Vietnam.
Kim Su-ji, who won the Grand Prize for the first time in the Korea Women’s Professional Golf Association (KLPGA) tour last year and emerged as a new ‘field trend’, wakes up before 5 am and warms up. After breakfast at 6:30 a.m. she tees off for her practice round. She has lunch, and from 1:00 PM she has practice and lessons, and has an early dinner at 5:30 PM. She ends the day with empty swings and circuit training before going to bed.
Domestic male and female professional golfers, who had a sweet break during the year-end and New Year holidays, started training in earnest to prepare for the 2023 season. Unlike the past two years, when they stayed in Korea due to the aftermath of Corona 19, most of them are heading overseas this time to avoid the cold. Last year’s training center was concentrated in the United States, but this year, it seems to be concentrated in Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand and Vietnam. Analysts in the golf industry say that while training conditions deteriorated as players gathered in California, the U.S., Southeast Asia is close and the quarantine measures for overseas arrivals were lifted.
Suji Kim set up camp in Hanoi, VietnamKim Su-ji is under the guidance of swing coach Lee Si-woo, director of the Big Fish Academy. Nearly 20 male and female seniors and juniors, including Ko Jin-young, who plays on the LPGA tour, and Park Hyeon-gyeong, the KLPGA signboard, have already participated in this camp or are planning to join. Director Lee Si-woo said, “In the morning, the temperature is around 17 degrees and the sunlight is not strong, so the weather and environment are better than other training areas. Meals, lodging, driving ranges, and courses are all within the resort, providing excellent training conditions. There is nothing to do but exercise,” he said. Director Lee visited the United States in 2022.
Suji Kim said, “As it is a long-term race, physical training is basic. Along with the short game, we are also intensively checking the swing.” He knows the importance of winter training better than anyone else. Last year, in order to increase the driving distance, he worked on strengthening his muscles 4 to 5 days a week throughout the winter, and his driver head speed increased by nearly 5 miles per hour.
Kim Su-ji, who ranked 87th with an average driving distance of 226 yards in 2020, took 243 yards (22nd) in 2021 and increased it to 246 yards (16th) in 2022. He sent the driver closer to 20 yards more, holding both clubs short and hitting the next shot, which made it easier to attack the course. In 2022, Kim Su-ji ranked first in average at-bats (70.47 strokes) and showed a steady pace in the top 10 17 times, including 2 wins in 27 competitions. Regarding Kim Su-ji, Director Lee explained, “I ordered a lot of practice to prevent pitches from sagging in the club face and turning the ball to the left,” and “I am focusing on the swing trajectory.”
Large rookie Hae Ran trains in ThailandLarge rookie Yoo Hae-ran (22, Daol Financial Group) dreams of making a successful LPGA tour debut in Thailand. From January 16th to February 18th, at Mountain Creek Golf Course in Khao Yai, Thailand, he will be accompanied by coach Yeom Dong-hoon, who coached him from elementary school until he became a national representative in high school.
Yoo Hae-ran said, “I think I will fully experience the Bermuda grass, which is difficult to come across in Korea,” and “I plan to focus on short games and putts.” Coach Yeom Dong-hoon said, “Hae-Ran Yoo’s strength is long hits, so he plans to focus on wedge games and putts within 100 yards.
Yoo Hae-ran also emphasized his physical strength. He said, “If you go to the LPGA Tour, the number of competitions is greater than in Korea, and the distance traveled is long and there is even a time difference, so it is important to manage your condition. I want to prioritize improving my stamina.” Yoo Hae-ran passed the LPGA Tour Qualifying Series in December of last year with a proud first place, and during the year-end and New Year holidays, she conducted a strength training program six times a week with a professional trainer.
Yoo Hae-ran trains with Lee Jeong-min (31, Hanwha Q Cells) and Park Ji-young (27, Korea Land Trust), who shared the championship in two overseas KLPGA tour tournaments in the 2023 season last December. Lee Jung-min, who enjoyed the joy of being a champion in his 30s, plans to make up for the shortcoming of his backswing shortening as his upper body sways when taking a takeback with a longer club. Lee Jung-min, who recently went on a long-awaited ski trip to Japan, said, “I think stretching training and rest before and after rounds are important for golf performance. I try to balance well to prevent injury.”
Kim Min-byeol (19, Hite Jinro) and Hwang Yu-min (20, Lotte), who are competing for the Rookie of the Year title on the KLPGA Tour this season, are preparing for their debut season in Chiang Rai, Thailand with professional Han Yeon-hee, who won eight gold medals in the Asian Games as national coaches. Kim Min-byeol said, “I am polishing my short game with many mistakes during the tournament. He continues to do aerobic exercise and strength training 6 times a week,” he said. Hwang Yoo-min focuses on wedge shots within 100m, slight swing correction, and increasing the chance of making shots. He said of the training process, “Since I make a small and strong swing, I also pay attention to improving overall muscle strength.” Han Yeon-hee’s pro camp also includes Kim Hyo-joo, Lee So-mi, and male signboard Park Sang-hyun.
Winter training is a stepping stone for a new leap forward and also a stage for incisive self-confidence. Hare Choi Hye-jin (24) won the KLPGA Tour grand prize for three consecutive years from 2018 and then jumped into the LPGA Tour in 2022, but unfortunately she could not win the championship. So, in the year of the Black Rabbit, her will to win her first LPGA tour is hot.
Choi Hye-jin, who lost her Rookie of the Year Award, will leave for Thailand on January 23rd. She felt physically tough at the end of her rookie season on the LPGA Tour. While in Korea, she focused on improving her strength at a training center specializing in golf, while in Thailand, she set supplementing her putt as a task. Choi Hye-jin confessed, “There are many different types of grass in the US, so it was difficult to learn the feeling of the ball rolling or the sense of touch.” On the 2022 LPGA Tour, Choi Hye-jin’s green hit rate was 76.54%, ranking 3rd, while her average number of putts was 30.32, ranking 80th.
‘Namdala’ Park Seong-hyun (Solaire), who turned 30 in 2023, is also promising a revival. Park Seong-hyun, born in 1993, said, “Until last year, he was in his 20s at the age of 10,000 years, but this year he truly turned into his 30s. He wants to abandon his baby-like mind and treat golf in a more mature and adult way.” Debuting on the LPGA Tour in 2017 and building a brilliant career, Park Sung-hyun, who ran to the top of the world rankings, fell into a long slump in the aftermath of a shoulder injury from 2020. He moved away from the top after winning his 7th career win at the 2019 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. The world ranking, which fell to 274th in May 2022, is currently ranked 200th.
Park Seong-hyun, who left for the United States on January 20 and trained in California, built up her body through intensive training in Korea before leaving the country. “I finished the 2022 season early and hung on to physical training. He did three to four hours of intense training every day at two training centers. He plans to build stamina that doesn’t tire until the second half of this season.” In the United States, he continues to work with Lee Sang-gyun, a Korean-Canadian professional who was recruited as a caddy in the second half of 2022. 먹튀검증
Park Seong-hyun, who has set a goal of winning three wins, including major tournaments in 2023, will make her first appearance in the new year at the LPGA Tour Drive-On Championship, which opens on March 23. Ahead of his departure, he also held a clothing sponsorship contract ceremony with Amazing Cree on January 9th.
Park Min-ji, the king of many wins, camps in LA, USAPark Min-ji (25, NH Investment & Securities), who won 6 consecutive seasons for 2 consecutive years in 2021 and 2022 and achieved 2 consecutive wins, left for Los Angeles, California on January 10th. Scheduled to return to Korea on March 8, she set up camp in the U.S. to improve her local adaptability ahead of advancing to the LPGA Tour this season. Park Min-ji said, “I plan to participate in a lot of LPGA events this year,” and showed enthusiasm, saying, “Because physical strength is more important than ever to travel between Korea and the United States, I need to increase my exercise in the winter.” In January, he plans to focus on physical strength with a professional trainer, and from February, he plans to start technical training.
Hong Jung-min (21), an up-and-coming player who won 1 win on the KLPGA Tour in 2022 and finished in 10th place (approximately 620 million won) in prize money, drew attention by catching Portugal as a training ground. Portimão, Portugal, where you will stay from January 3rd to February 28th, is a suitable environment for golf training in continental Europe, and many professional golfers flock to it during the winter. The temperature is 10-15 degrees Celsius. A mini-tour is held, and there is also an opportunity to play rounds with prospective male players in Europe, which can be effective in raising the sense of actual combat.
Pro golfers say that farming is decided in the winter. This is the reason why they are willing to return the Lunar New Year holidays and sweat from the beginning of the year. The 2023 season kicks off in the spring, but the starting gun has already sounded.
Manager Kim Jong-seok…
From 2019 to last year, he is a professional golf reporter who served as the head of the Dong-A Ilbo’s sports department. Since 1998 he has been in charge of golf and has covered major sports such as basketball, baseball, tennis and badminton.