Let’s Go Korea!
The South Koreans don’t fool around when it comes to their professional golf. The Korean LPGA comes roaring back in a determined effort to re-start its professional game and to beat the COVID-19 pandemic!
The big push starts on Thursday with the launch of the Korean LPGA Championship. This tournament will feature its biggest purse ever — US$2.4 million – three times last year’s — and will limit access to a small number of essential workers (media, agents, staff, etc.).
Headlining the tournament will be four of the top 15 players in the world — Sung Hyun Park (3), Sei Young Kim (6), Jeongeun Lee6 (10) and Hyo Joo Kim (13). “If golf fans can see the players at the ‘KLPGA Championship’ do their best and tell us ‘you’re giving us something to be happy about,’ I could ask for no more,” said Park. “I hope this tournament and the performances of the players can be a turning point for the people who are going through challenging times.”
The KLPGA has promised players the safest environment possible, which includes what they’re calling an “Urban Range.” Players arriving at the range will walk through a UV sterilizing sanitizer before having their temperature taken with a thermal imaging camera. Once on the range, players will be expected to keep driving range stations open between each other. There will be a separate area blocked off for stretching and exercises. Everyone on the tournament grounds will have their temperature taken daily and will be asked to wear masks throughout. It is unclear if that means players will have to wear masks while they play. Everyone will also fill out a mandatory checklist each day to help track whereabouts and to aid in contact tracing.
Indoors, player dining will have a new look with individual dining tables. The KLPGA say the lounge, which will be disinfected four times daily, will replicate the elegance and comfort of a 5-star hotel. Caddies will be allowed, but all persons on site will be asked to minimize their contact with groups of people off the grounds after play has ended each day.
In the event of a confirmed case of coronavirus on site, a special tent will be used to quarantine that person for an indefinite amount of time while an investigation of their contacts is made.
Due to the pandemic, all tournaments were cancelled and the normal KLPGA season would have featured six events by now. To make up for lost time the tournament organizers have bumped the number of competitors from 144 to 150, with all 150 earning a check by the end of the weekend.