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Asia are the new rulers of women's golf

By Neville Leck Last updated: 18th September 2012

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Jiyah Shin: Won the season's final major

Jiyah Shin: Won the season's final major

It's been coming for a while now, but it's finally become a 21st Century reality.

Asia rules women's golf.

Asia has moved well clear of America and Europe to become the dominant force in professional women's golf.

Korea's Jiyah Shin, briefly the women's world number one golfer a few years back, put a big bright cherry on top of a great year for the Asians - and the South Koreans in particular - when she won the season's final major, the RICOH Womens British Open, at England's Royal Liverpool Golf Club on Sunday.

Slimmer and trimmer than she was when she first hit the headlines a few years back, the no-longer-bespectacled and scholarly-looking 24-year-old closed with a 73 in brutal weather to win by all of nine and 10 shots from fellow South Korean Inbee Park and the USA's 'Pink Lady', Paul Creamer, as she closed with 279, the only finishing total under par.

Shin really rubbed it in for the Asians for her victory gave them a first-ever clean sweep of all four of the LPGA Tour's 2012 major championships, the other three major winners being fellow South Koreans Sun Young Yoo (Kraft Nabisco Championship) and Na Yeon Choi (US Women's Open), and Shanshan Feng of China, who won the LPGA Championship.

But that's not all. The Ladies European Tour have five majors and the 5th, the French-based Evian Masters, was also won by a Korean this year in Inbee Park.

And yes, there is still more. The current world number one is also an Asian. And so too is the leader of the LPGA Tour's money race.

Chinese Taipei's, or if you prefer it, Taiwan's Yani Tseng, hasn't had a great season this year, but along with her brilliance last year when she seemed to win every second tournament she played in, her regular appearance in the upper echelons of this season's leaderboards has been enough to keep her on top of the Rolex Women's World Rankings until now.

In the US money race, meanwhile, an exciting new US talent, Stacey Lewis, had led for a good few weeks this year, but even these standing are now being topped by an Asian, one Inbee Park, the same person who finished second at Royal Liverpool on Sunday.

When I last looked at the LPGA Money list at the weekend, Lewis, by the way, was the only American among the top dozen names.

Choi sat just behind her in third place, Japan's Ai Miyazato in fourth, Tseng in 5th with a lone European, Azahra Munoz of Spain, in the 6th spot.

Then came Feng, China's first big golf star - and perhaps the first of many, if the London Olympics means anything! - Japan's Mika Miyazato and four more South Koreans; So Yeon Ryu, Amy Yang, Shin and Yoo in that order.

The next American on the list after Lewis is Angela Stanford, who is one slot back from the 13th-placed Australian Karrie Webb.

And this in a sport where for most of the 20th Century the Americans bestrode the sport like a gang of invincible golfing giants.

Swedish standout star Annika Sorenstam, who won 10 majors and dominated the world number one position for much of the late 1990s and early 2000s, did put a stop to that for a while but the suggestion that she would spearhead a European invasion of one of the US's great sporting strongholds never materialised and instead it was the Asians who did it.

And perhaps not surprisingly when you look at their sky-high work ethic and the sheer passion - often disguised by Asian inscrutability - that they have displayed while gunning for their targets in the past decade or so.

I have never had the pleasure of visiting Korea, Japan or China. Nor have I spent any time with the LPGA stars.

But what I have seen is the almost unbelievable dedication of two young Korean teenagers who followed the sun to South Africa and before moving on with their plans to become two more of the outstanding Korean women's professionals in circulation, spent two years at the Milnerton Golf Club, the scenic sea-side Cape Town links club of which I am a member.

Except for tournament days, there wasn't one when your would not find them hitting balls on our practice range or chipping and putting on our practice greens.

And not without reward. Though still in their mid-teens when they left, they were already among the foremost of Cape Town's elite women's amateur golfers.

I'm expecting to hear a lot more of them in the future.

Neville Leck



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