‘Hot Six’ Lee Jeong-eun6 (27, Daebang Construction), who is active in the LPGA tour, participated in the domestic stage for the first time in a while.
Jeong-eun Lee participated in the 2023 KLPGA Tour ‘OK Financial Group Shotman Open’ held at the Club 72 Haneul Course located in Yeongjong, Incheon on the 17th, and finished the tournament in a tie for 40th place with a final total of 5 under par 211 strokes.
The general consensus is that she performed well, considering factors such as her physical and mental exhaustion from the continuous forced march on the LPGA tour and her adaptation to jet lag. And there was someone who stayed by Lee Jeong-eun’s side throughout the three days of the competition, and that was her coach, professional Kim Ki-hwan (Team Logic Academy).
Coaches who visit the competition venue in person have a significant role to play, watching the games of the players they are in charge of carefully, checking technical aspects, and sometimes even providing counseling to help them stay mentally strong. Therefore, it is not uncommon to see coaches carrying golf bags and serving as caddies for some players.
Professional Kim Ki-hwan also willingly went to the game carrying a golf bag for his student Lee Jeong-eun. Who is Lee Jeong-eun? With six wins on the KLPGA tour alone, Lee Jeong-eun is the powerhouse that dominated Korean women’s golf in 2017. Then, she headed to the LPGA Tour and dominated the 2019 US Women’s Open, competing on the biggest stage in the world so far.
Before participating in this tournament, Lee Jeong-eun said, “Professor Kim Ki-hwan decided to carry the golf bag himself. She said, “I’m half excited and half worried.” So, what are the teacher’s feelings? After the second round of the competition ended on the 16th, she met professional Kim Ki-hwan in person.
Regarding the reason why he took charge of Jeong-eun Lee’s golf bag, Professional Kim said, “Actually, I went to the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship last June. He stayed for a week and followed me to the gallery until the last day of the competition, but I was frustrated because I couldn’t immediately point out mistakes when I thought they might be made. So, after the tournament, he said he would caddy for me at some point, whether in Korea or the United States,” he said. “I received a call right before participating in this tournament. Can you caddy for me? So I took off all my schedule and ran. “My homework is for the player to play well,” he said.
He continued, “You did a good job as a caddy. In the first round, he said, ‘Let’s play like you normally do,’ but overall, the breathing was fast and the tension was high, so he joked a lot to ease the tension. Only that part was modified to adapt to course conditions, which are very different from those in the United States. “As this came into effect, the feel of the shot improved from the second round onwards,” he explained.
The problem was the condition. Pro Kim Ki-hwan said, “I couldn’t adjust to the jet lag, so I suddenly stopped talking in the middle of the game. When Jeong-eun is tired, she usually becomes silent. So, he gave me cool water and prepared the necessary medicines so that I could give them at any time.”
Professional Kim Ki-hwan personally lifted Jeong-eun Lee’s golf bag. ⓒ KLPGA
Professional Kim Ki-hwan is a leader who willingly carries a golf bag for his students. However, being a caddy for a professional golfer is not an easy task. Just like a player, he must walk about 20,000 steps a day and carry a golf bag weighing well over 10 kg on his shoulder. And he has to analyze the course, point out shots, and sometimes even be a conversation partner.
Pro Kim said, “I caddied twice this year. This is Min-seon Kim7 and Su-min Lee, who is competing in the men’s competition. Of course, I only played one round at that time,” he said, laughing. “I thought this tournament would be okay, but the ground on the golf course here was a little soft and soft, so it was difficult.”
The reward is considerable. Pro Kim Ki-hwan said, “The players like it. What can I say, I can accept it when I want to complain. “They also say that it helps players improve their performance because they can give feedback right away,” he said. “But I only do what I can as a coach.” If he takes care of every part, he will no longer be able to stand on his own feet. “Golf is a sport you play alone anyway,” he said firmly.
Professional Kim Ki-hwan serves as a coach and mentor to many active players. Representative examples include Lee Jeong-eun, Kim Min-seon7, Lee Seung-taek, and Park Jun-hong. In particular, Kim Chan-woo, who won the KPGA Tour Bizplay Electronic Newspaper Open last week, and Jeong So-i, who unfortunately finished runner-up in the KLPGA Tour OK Financial Group Shotman Open, are also under the care of professional Kim Ki-hwan.
What kind of leader will Professional Kim be seen by his students? He said, “I want to create an atmosphere where players can speak up whenever they feel uncomfortable. However, it is difficult to be too much like a friend. “It’s not easy to find a middle ground,” he said honestly.
Golf is a sport in which success can only be achieved by possessing strong mental strength based on solid fundamentals. Pro Kim Ki-hwan emphasized, “I teach a lot of technical aspects and at the same time teach you to have good mental strength,” and then added, “In fact, for professional players who take lessons, there is not much advice to give when they are doing well at golf. However, when things start to go wrong, it becomes very difficult mentally. “At that time, he continues to instill a positive mindset by analyzing and pointing out technical aspects,” he said emphatically.
Pro Kim Ki-hwan has recently begun training amateur players. Pro Kim said, “Most of the players I teach are professionals who play on the regular tour. About a third of them are participating in the first division tour, and the rest are players in their early or mid-20s playing in the second division tour. However, he was not able to teach junior players, but he recently started teaching one player,” he said, expressing his expectations.안전놀이터
The main character is Han Hyo-ri (third year student at Seomun Girls’ Middle School). Han Hyo-ri won the middle school division at the recently held ‘KLPGA-Samchully Together Dream Tree Competition 2023’ and is a rising prospect.
Pro Kim Ki-hwan said, “It’s been about two years since he started teaching, and his growth is extraordinary. When he first taught he was in his mid-80s. And I won this tournament by hitting 7 under par on the first day, 1 over par on the next day, and 8 under par on the last day. He may not yet be part of the national team or the standing army, but he has what it takes to make it big. “I cherish it a lot,” he said with a happy expression.
Pro Kim Ki-hwan said that he is willing to carry a golf bag whenever his students ask him to serve as a caddy in the future. He said, “A lot of players request it. “Now I plan to only provide coaching to players who need it,” he said with a smile.
Meanwhile, professional Kim Ki-hwan did not forget to congratulate Kim Chan-woo, who won the Bizplay Electronic Newspaper Open. Professional Kim said, “I have been teaching since this year. Since he has such good hitting power at the ball, I was confident that if he just controlled his wrist movements when swinging, he would achieve good results. So even when he taught, he emphasized wrist firmness. “Congratulations on your win,” he said.