Ha Na Jang is another Korean golfer who became
a star while still a teenage amateur. She is short in stature,
but strongly built, and as a result hits the ball extremely
far. Bubbly in nature, she quickly became one of the strongest
of the young up and coming amateur golfers in Korea. How strong?
She finished tied for 42nd at the Korean Women's Open as a
12 year old. At that event, she was seen picking clovers while
waiting to tee off. Ever since then, the clover has been her
symbol, and she usually has a clover on her golf bag.
At some unknown point, Jang and her family
relocated to the US, and now reside in San Diego, CA. She
is renowned for a relentless work schedule which saw her working
often until midnight six days a week.
In 2007, Jang began playing top events with
international fields more regularly, with great results. She
made a big splash early in the summer, winning the Callaway
Junior World Championship in North Carolina by ten shots.
On one hole, she recorded a 312 yard drive.
At the US Girls Junior that year, she got
out to a great start by finishing second in the stroke play
portion of the event -- behind only Kimberly Kim, who set
a record with her own score. But Jang did not last long in
the match play, losing in the first round. A few weeks later,
she had a much more impressive run at the US Women's Amateur.
Among those she trounced in match play were highly touted
American youngster Alexis Thompson and fellow Korean amateur
star Mi Jung Hur, while she eked out a close 20 hole win over
college star Tiffany Joh. Jang finally lost in the semifinals
to eventual champion Maria Jose Uribe, although it took Uribe
making two ridiculously long putts, including a 50+ foot birdie,
to do it.
Jang had a superlative 2009 season. She won
the World Golf Championship that summer by six shots. In the
fall, she played in two KLPGA Majors, and found herself in
contention in both of them. At the Hite Cup, she finished
third behind winner Hee Kyung Seo. But at the year's final
Major, the KB Star Tour Grand Final, she duked it out with
Seo until the bitter end. In fact, she even briefly captured
a share of the lead before Seo claimed it back. In the end
Jang lost by a shot to Seo, the KLPGA's top player.
Jang flew under the radar in 2010. She turned
pro early and played mostly mini-tours. At the end of the
season, she attended KLPGA Q-School and easily earned a tour
card for 2011. In her very first event as a KLPGA member,
she contended for the win and notched a top ten finish. But
her rookie year proved to be a bit underwhelming. Touted as
one of the top prospects for Rookie of the Year, she never
really challenged the eventual winner, Yeon Ju Jung. She had
three top ten finishes, her best result a third at the S-OIL
Champions. She finished 32nd on the tour's money list.
Ha Na Jang finally had her big KLPGA breakthrough
in 2012, though it didn't happen immediately. Indeed, she
started the year missing 5 of her first six cuts. She made
her first top ten at the Hanwha Classic in September, but
it was in October that she at last broke through. It started
with a 4th place at the Rush & Cash Classic, then a third
at the Hite Cup, the year's third Major. At the year's last
Major, the KB Financial, she finally got her first tour win.
She wound up 10th on the money list for 2012, with ~258 million
won earned and five top tens.
Jang started 2013 on a good note by finishing
17th at the Swinging Skirts event in Taiwan, then following
that with a third at the Hyundai China Ladies Open, several
shots behind the two way battle for the win between Rookie
Hyo Joo Kim and two time champion Hye Youn Kim. Jang went
on to have a career best season on the KLPGA tour, establishing
herself as possibly the player to beat on that tour for the
next few years.
Jang got off to a great start with a 2nd place
at the LotteMart Women's Open, and had two more runner-up
finishes at the EDaily and the Woori. She finally broke through
with her first win of the year at the Doosan Match Play, beating
rookie star Hyo Joo Kim in the quarters and rookie star In
Gee Chun in the final. Jang slowed down a little after that,
but still led the money list most of the Spring and summer.
She climbed back into the winner's circle in October at the
Rush & Cash, climbing to a big lead in round 2 and cruising
to the win. She won the following week as well, capturing
the Hite Cup with a dominating final round performance. She
was pitted against Hee Kyung Seo in the final round. Seo had
beaten Jang at this very event in 2009, and they were tied
after a few holes on Sunday. But at that point, Jang went
on an absolute tear, holing out for eagle and making several
more birdies to climb to a ten shot lead. She got revenge
on Seo and captured her second career KLPGA Major in the process.
In 2013, Jang collected three wins and made
nearly 690 million won, coming close to beating Jiyai Shin's
all time record for most money made in a single season. She
also won her first Player of the Year award, eclipsing Hyo
Joo Kim at the final event. She had 13 total top tens, most
of which were top fives.
Jang barely paused for breath before she started
up again in 2014. In December, 2013, she finished tied for
6th at the Swinging Skirts in Taiwan, and followed that with
a win at the Hyundai China Ladies Open. Just two events into
the 2014 season and Jang already was tops on theKLPGA money
list again . Her wins allowed her to climb to 14th in the
world by year's end, the fifth highest ranked Korean in the
world (sixth if you include Lydia Ko).
For the first few months of 2014, Jang was
clearly the player to beat on the KLPGA. But after she went
to America to play the US Women's Open, Hyo Joo Kim took off
by winning the Korean Women's Open the same week. Kim went
on to win two more events in rapid succession, dominating
the rest of the KLPGA season. But Jang still had a very good
year. She won one more KLPGA event for two total and .had
10 top tens during the year. She finished 6th on the money
list with 583 million won earned.
Jang also played several LPGA events in 2014.
After a 14th at the HSBC, she had several mediocre results
in three more events. Then, everything came together for her
at the Evian Championship in September. She put herself into
contention, and with two holes left still had a chance to
win. But she missed a short birdie try on 17 and a par on
18 and wound up tied for third. Ironically, her KLPGA nemesis
Hyo Joo Kim ended up winning.
Jang's success at the Evian convinced her
to try her luck at LPGA Q-School. She did great, leading for
several rounds. Alas, she struggled a lot in the final round
and fell to 6th place, but it was still more than good enough
for her to earn her LPGA card for 2015.
Ha Na Jang played her first LPGA event the
following January. She had to Monday qualify to even get into
the field of the Coates Championship, but she played well
all week, nearly winning before getting touched out by Korean
star Na Yeon Choi. She contended several more times before
putting herself in great position to win at the Marathon Classic
in July. In fact, she was tied for the lead coming into the
final hole, and had a great birdie chance to win outright.
But she missed, and wound up losing the playoff to Chella
Ha Na would have two more runner-up finishes,
at the Cambia Classic in Portland and the CME Group Tour Championship
in November. In all, she notched 8 top tens, made $883,032,
and finished 15th on the money list. Despite those great stats,
she only finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year standings.
After a great rookie season with everything
but a win, it did not take Ha Na long to correct that in 2016.
She finished tied for 11th at the Pure Silk Bahamas, but made
history by making a hole in one on a par 4 hole. She became
the first person in LPGA history to accomplish that feat.
The next time she played, at the Coates Championship, she
collected her first win, celebrating with a distinctive "samurai
sword" move that went viral.
Jang won her second career title a few weeks
later at the HSBC Women's Champions, again celebrating in
a unique way by doing a dance modeled after a Beyonce video.
But it was what happened at the start of the week that had
the biggest impact. While arriving at the airport for the
tournament, Jang's father accidentally let go of a suitcase
while riding an escalator. The case struck fellow golfer In
Gee Chun in the back, injuring her and forcing her out of
several tournaments, including the HSBC. Chun's fans were
outraged by this, and when Jang won, she temporarily replaced
Chun on the Olympic team. That, coupled, with a victory dance
many fans saw as being inconsiderate of In Gee's feelings,
resulted in a massive backlash against Jang. For the next
few months, she struggled with sleeplessness and anxiety as
she tried to put the incident behind her.
Jang's game also suffered, and eventually
she skipped about two months of play while she tried to regroup.
This knocked her out of the running for the Olympics and International
Crown teams, and eventually Chun qualified for both while
Jang made neither.
Jang recovered by the summer, and had several
more good finishes, including a tie for 5th at the British
Women's Open. In October, Jang played brilliantly in Taiwan
at the Fubon Championship. She followed two 69s with her career
best 62, taking a six shot lead into the final round. China's
Shanshan Feng nearly caught her, but Jang just managed to
hold her off for her third win of the year.
She nearly won a fourth time in Japan, but
this time it was Feng who got the trophy while Jang finished
second. In 2016, Ha Na managed 8 top tens, and broke 70 for
her scoring average while also setting a career best in money
earned (she broke a million in a season for the first time,
and finished inside the top ten in 8th place, her career best).
Ha Na also played a few times on the KLPGA
tour in 2016, managing a top ten at the Kumho Tires event
in July. In December, she played the Hyundai Ladies China
Open, where she was in contention much of Sunday before a
late double bogey allowed Hyo Joo Kim to take the title. Jang