by Mark Hayes
There it was, a critical moment, and a $5 note blew across the tee.
Ha Na Jang, fighting her way back into ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open contention, had just birdied the 17th to surge to six under and a mobile TV crew buzzed to reach her and playing partner Su Oh on the final tee.
Jang was just into her preparation as the cash flopped from a fan’s pocket and blew between her and the prone cameraman whose reach it just eluded.
Never fear, it’s the self-proclaimed “Ha-Na-Giser” to the rescue.
As playful as if she was in a practice round with her mates at home in Seoul, Jang stalked the bank bill and covered it with her driver, beating the cameraman to the prize.
“Mine,” she exclaimed before pocketing the note as the crowd laughed its approval of the charming sideshow to her impressive round.
Naturally, she jogged back over to the young lad with the butter fingers and reimbursed him.
Just as naturally, the fans laughed again and she beamed a smile that could light up a small town.
“I love that. Great fun. It creates people (interest) to come to the golf course and always have more fun,” the 24-year-old enthused after her round.
“More clapping and (hand signals), and then after I celebrate it’s really more sound, big sound and I love that.”
And there was much to celebrate today, both with Jang and Oh in a group that combined to shoot 12 birdies in easily the hottest combination on a windswept Royal Adelaide.
“You think three under is a good score? Yeah, I think it is pretty good,” Jang said, again with that smile.
“But I also played with Su Oh today and she was really wonderful (in shooting five under). So my score looks easy today compared (to) hers.”
Jang said more birdies were in the offing tomorrow as her early-season rust disappears.
“My target in total is 10 under par. I’m six under now, so four more birdies … I can do that!
“I just have to be patient and try to keep it simple and then see (hopefully that) after the round it’s a really good score.”
So will there be any bold celebrations tomorrow should Jang salute for a fourth LPGA Tour win.
“Not this week, maybe try next week,” she said with a cheeky grin.
The crowd would be prepared to bet well more than $5 that she wouldn’t be able to help herself should she triumph.