LPGA Tour Rookie Hee Kyung Seo currently holds a commanding 266-point lead in the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year race. The 25-year old from South Korea has posted seven top-25 finishes this season including a runner-up at the U.S. Women’s Open conducted by the USGA and a tie for sixth at the Avnet LPGA Classic. Seo earned LPGA membership by capturing the 2010 Kia Classic. She has won 11 times on the KLPGA Tour. LPGA.com recently caught up with this rising star.
LPGA.com: You are currently leading the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year race. Was that a goal of yours heading into this season and what would it mean to you to win the award?
SEO: Yes. One of my goals this year is to win the Rookie of the Year for sure. I am definitely excited to be leading the Rookie of the Year race, but we still have a lot of tournaments left. I am just going to do my best and hopefully I will get something out of it. Being a rookie is a once in a lifetime thing. You only get one chance to win the Rookie of the Year, so it would a great honor to win the award and a perfect way to end my first season on the LPGA tour.
LPGA.com: You won the Kia Classic in 2010 as a sponsor invite, but chose not to join the LPGA until this year. Why did you decide to join the LPGA this year and what have been your biggest challenges/adjustments?
SEO: Last year I was very fortunate to win the tournament where I played on a sponsor’s exemption. I didn’t even expect it, so I was very happy and surprised that I won. I wanted to take that experience and be more prepared for the LPGA Tour. Also, I wanted to finish strong in KLPGA before joining LPGA. I had no KLPGA wins last year, but I don’t regret my decision.
LPGA.com: What has been you most memorable experience so far this year?
SEO: Every tournament is a learning experience for me, but I would have to say that my experience at this year’s U.S. Women’s Open was quite special. I was very nervous. I wouldn’t lie. I was very disappointed, but it was certainly not a bad experience.
LPGA.com: In Korea , you are known as the “Supermodel of the Fairway” How did you get this nickname?
SEO: Honestly, I am not totally comfortable being referred to as the “Supermodel of the Fairway.” When I won for the first time in Korea, I didn’t have any nicknames. I think I got the nickname because I am pretty tall for an Asian woman. Here, on the LPGA Tour, I see many tall model looking players and I feel some pressure to live up to my nickname.
LPGA.com: You have mentioned that you have practiced quite a bit with Jiyai Shin and also named Juli Inkster as one of your idols. How have both influenced you as a player/person?
SEO: I used to practice a lot with Jiyai, especially before my first professional win in Korea. Jiyai and her father helped me to put together a daily practice routine to make the most out of my practice sessions and also helped strengthen my mental game. Since then my performance has significantly improved. I am very grateful to Jiyai and her father for their help.
Juli Inkster has been always my favorite player since I started playing golf. It is such a great feeling to see my childhood idol every tournament and play on the same tour. I haven’t had a chance to get to know her on a personal level, but I am very looking forward to playing with her in the same group. It would be a very special honor for me.