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Song Yi Choi Has Clubs, Will Travel

By: Dave Andrews


Besides playing well in LPGA Tour events, Song Yi Choi's biggest concern this year may be an airline losing her clubs on a flight from one tournament to another. The 23-year-old South Korean has already chalked up a lot of air miles this season bouncing back and forth between events on the LPGA and the Futures Tour. Her goal is to earn full playing status on the LPGA and if that means doing a lot of her sleeping on airplane flights, then that's the way it will have to be.

On March 16th Choi was in Huixquilucan, Mexico, playing in the Monday qualifying round for the Mastercard Classic on the LPGA Tour. She fell one shot short of making it into the field. As soon the qualifying round was over, she hopped on a plane for Orlando to compete in the Futures Tour's first event of the season in Winter Haven, Fla.

Choi showed no signs of jet lag as she went out and shot a 64 in the opening round of the Florida's Natural Growers Charity Classic. Her nine birdies along with just one bogey gave her a four-stroke lead on the field after the first day. She stumbled a little, however, over the final two rounds. A bogey on the 54th hole of the tournament dropped her into a two-way tie for first with Jean Reynolds of Newnan, Ga. Reynolds birdied the third hole of their sudden-death playoff and walked away with the trophy and the winner's check of $14,000. Choi had to settle for second and $10,000. She also had to get to the airport.

She hopped on another plane and flew to Phoenix where she played in the Tuesday qualifier for this week's LPGA event. Choi shot a 73 and was one of the two players that day to earn a spot in the field in the J Golf Phoenix LPGA International.

Unfortunately for the third-year pro, Choi fired a 77 in the first round of the tournament. At the time of this writing, she was in jeopardy of missing the two-day cut in Phoenix. If she doesn't make the cut she will be on a plane again, heading for Daytona Beach, Fla., and the second Futures event of the season. She would not be eligible to play next week in the first major event of the season on the LPGA, the Kraft Nabisco Championship in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

Choi finished sixth on the Futures Tour's season money list last season. That earned her membership in the LPGA this season, but her priority status on the LPGA players list is not high enough to gain her automatic entry into many LPGA events. That means she will have to Monday-qualify for a chance to make it into the fields.

The Futures Tour events are still very important for her, and she can't afford to miss many if she hopes to finish in the top five on that tour's money list at the end of the season. Making the top five, a mere one spot better than she finished last season, would give her much higher priority status on the LPGA next season and guarantee her of getting into most events.

So 2009 will be one of constant travel for Song Yi Choi, moving back and forth between the LPGA and the Futures. She has her clubs and is willing to travel and play wherever she has to in order to make it as a full-time player on the LPGA. Let's hope the airlines don't lose her clubs.

Dave Andrews is a Harvard-educated former television news reporter. He's also an avid golfer who has become a fan of the Duramed Futures Tour. His home course in Concord, N.H., is annually the site of one of the tour's events. The inspiration for Dave's 2007 novel, "Pops and Sunshine," came from meeting many of the young aspiring women golfers on that tour. Each of them has a passion, dedication and determination that he finds remarkable. His novel is a fictionalization of the dream that these young women share. To order Dave's book, visit http://popsandsunshine.com.