As a young teenager, Kyu Jung Baek was a member
of the Korean National team, a contemporary of stars like Hyo Joo
Kim, In Gee Chun and Min Sun Kim. She teamed with Hyo Joo Kim and
Min Sun Kim to win the 2012 Espirito Santo World Women's Amateur
Team Championship for Korea, and also notched a third place finish
at the Queen Sirikit Cup that year.
Baek turned pro in 2013 and played on the minor
league Dream Tour. She won twice there, then won two more minor
league events besides, to finish 4th on the Dream Tour money list
and qualify herself for the KLPGA in 2014.
Beak had several highlights in 2013 when playing
on the big tour. Her best moment came at the 2013 Korean Women's
Open. She led after three rounds and played in the final group with
her old national teammates Chun and Hyo Joo Kim. In the end, Chun
won the event, Kim won Rookie of the Year, but Baek came away with
a third place finish, and established herself as a name to watch.
Her other 2013 highlight came in her last event
of the year, the Swinging Skirts. In a field packed with top players,
Baek finished tied for 4th with Hyo Joo Kim. The only three players
who beat her were all top five in the world rankings.
Baek played brilliantly in her rookie season on
the KLPGA. She won her first event in just her fourth start at the
Nexen Saint Nine Ladies Masters, and won her second event not long
after that at the Lotte Cantata Ladies Open. In the Autumn, Baek
won her first Major at the KLPGA Championship. She was the first
KLPGA rookie to win three times in her first season since Jiyai
Shin in 2006.
Despite three wins, however, she found herself embroiled
in a fantastic battle for Rookie of the Year with fellow teenagers
Jin Young Ko and Min Sun Kim. Even as late as the year's final Major,
she was exactly tied with Ko and barely ahead of Kim. It took until
the final two events of the season for Baek to finally put them
away and secure the Rookie of the Year. She wound up making 610
million won in 2014, placing her fifth on the year ending money
list. She had 13 top tens on the season.
However, the undisputed highlight of her season
came not on the KLPGA but the LPGA. At the LPGA's annual event in
South Korea, the KEB Hana Bank Championship, Baek, playing her first
ever LPGA tournament, grabbed a share of the third round lead. She
struggled on the front nine on Sunday, but on the back made five
straight birdies to climb back into a share of the lead. She missed
a birdie chance to win on the final hole and seemed devastated;
but she regrouped and striped her wedge to a few feet in the playoff,
making the birdie to win the title and her LPGA card.
Kyu Jung took the nickname 'Q' when she joined the
LPGA in 2015. She managed to keep her tour card, but did not have
quite the rookie season she was hoping to have. She had 7 top 20s,
but also missed 6 cuts. She only once finished within the top ten,
at the Marathon Classic, where she duked it out with fellow rookie
Ha Na Jang on Sunday before fading to a tie for 5th. Jang lost the
playoff to Korean star Chella Choi.
In the end, Q Baek finished 57th on the money list,
maintaining her tour card and gaining top status for 2016. She wound
up 8th in the ultra-competitive Rookie of the Year race.
2016 started out well for Kyu Jung. She shot a 65
in her very first round at the Honda Thailand, and finished just
outside the top ten in 11th place. Alas, that was also the best
round and best tournament of the season for her. For much of the
ret of the year, she struggled, only occasionally surfacing on a
leaderboard. She only had one other top twenty, a 16th at the Meijier
LPGA Ladies Classic. She finished 90th on the money list, dropping
her priority to category 11 for 2017.
There is a rumor that Q Baek may be returning to
Korea to play full time on the KLPGA starting in 2017.