‘Target’ Ham Jung-woo “I’m hearing that your wedding went well”

November 20, 2023 | by

‘Smile Man’ Ham Jung-woo’s face is full of smiles.

He got married last March to Kang Yerin (born in 1994), who plays on the Korean Ladies Professional Golf (KLPGA) Tour, and they had a princess (Ham So-yul) last March. In the first half of this year, he struggled with his grades, and was joked about as if he had gone to a wedding and his grades didn’t come out. However, Ham picked up the pace in the second half of the year, winning one game, placing third in the prize money standings (632.52 million won) and winning his first grand prize (6062 points). “Now, I’m often told that I’ve made a good marriage,” he smiled in an interview with the Asian Economic Daily.

The South Korean won the Rookie of the Year award on the Korean Tour in 2018 and made his presence felt by winning the SK Telecom Open in 2019 and the Hyundai Marine Choi Kyung-ju Invitational in 2021. While he didn’t win last year, he had six top-10 finishes, including two runner-up finishes, and finished 11th on the money list ($436.2 million) and fourth on the Genesis Points list (4,632). Ham was motivated to give his wife and daughter a championship this year, but things went awry. In the first half of the year, he only managed four top-10 finishes in 11 events. “My wife was in a lot of pain. I wanted to do too well,” he recalled, adding, “I think my poor performance after we got married put a lot of psychological pressure on me.”

After finishing the first half, Ham took time to regroup for the second half. His wife suggested endurance training first. They ran 5 kilometers together. It was a godsend. “We ran in the sweltering July-August weather, with temperatures approaching 38 degrees,” he reveals, “and I purposely ran between 1 and 2 p.m., when it was hottest.” To make his training more effective, he traveled from his home in Cheonan to Woojung Hills Country Club. He followed his wife’s advice, “It’s a waste of time to go to Friendship Hills from our house in Yongin.” “Thanks to her, I performed well in the second half of the year,” he says, smiling, “I won a championship and received a grand prize, which made her face light up.”

Ham Jeong-woo was on fire in the second half of the year. He finished tied for fourth at the KPGA Gunsan CC Open and third at the LX Championship in August and tied for fifth at the iMBank Open in September. He finally recorded his first win of the season and his third career victory at the Hyundai Marine Choi Kyung Joo Invitational last month. “The training I did during the break gave me more persistence,” he said, adding that he was grateful to his wife for giving him the strength to hold on in the third and fourth rounds. 캡틴토토

Ham set a number of pre-season goals for himself, including becoming a multi-time winner, and he accomplished one of them. He won the Genesis Grand Prize after finishing tied for fourth at the LG Signature Players Championship, the final event of the Korean Tour season, which ended on Dec. 12. “I wanted to win the grand prize so badly,” he said, “and after the second round, I realized that I could win the grand prize because Lee Jung-hwan, who was second in the grand prize points, didn’t perform well in the final round. I didn’t let go of my nerves and focused until the end.”

For finishing first in points toward the Genesis Grand Prize, Ham received a variety of benefits. He received a bonus prize of $100 million, a Genesis car, a five-year seed on the Korean Tour, a direct entry into the final round of the Qualifying (Q) School on the U.S. Professional Golf (PGA) Tour, and a one-year seed on the DP World Tour (formerly the European Tour). “It’s a great opportunity,” said Ham. “I think it’s a great opportunity this time,” he said, “I have a platform to upgrade to the next level. I even received a bonus of 100 million won. I’ll use it for expenses to challenge the overseas stage,” he laughed.

Ham will knock on the doors of the DP World Tour and PGA Tour next year. He said, “I’m thinking of challenging the DP World Tour in the first half of the year. But I heard that it’s not easy to travel to faraway countries like South Africa and the Czech Republic.” “There are about five tournaments in Asia. I think it’s wise to focus on these tournaments.” Ham will compete in the final round of the PGA Tour Q-School from December 14-19. “If I finish in the top five, I can play a few regular PGA Tour events,” he said, “and if I’m seeded on the Confederation Tour, I’ll try to play for two to three months.” He will focus on physical training in Korea and then travel to Florida a week before the tournament.

As for Ham, he’s going solo. He said, “It’s difficult to have a family accompany you when you’re traveling overseas. “My wife also told me, ‘Think of it as a year of preparation,'” he said, “so I’m going to struggle on my own for about a year.” “It’s been a dream of mine since I was a kid to play on the PGA Tour. It’s not going to be easy, but I want to do well in the U.S. and establish myself quickly,” he said. “I won’t put too much time into it. If it’s hard, I’ll give up and come back to Korea,” he said of his future plans.


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