Long Waits Between Wins for Mi Jung Hur, but Things Speeding Up
This past week, the LPGA Tour visited one of the years oddest venues. I’m not sure how it came to be, but Pete Dye designed the course, so it came from the upper realms of the industry. In the city of Indianapolis, the Indy Women in Tech Championship was played at the Brickyard Crossing Golf Course, an event eventually won by Mi Jung Hur of South Korea. Not being familiar with her, my first thought was “Here comes the next great one out of Korea, and the former great ones haven’t gone anywhere yet. What are they doing over there, and can my little weekend muni game get a little of it?”
Among the other features of Brickyard Crossing is the fact that four of the holes spill over into the middle of the Indianapolis Speedway – yes, the big circle where the Indy 500 is held. I’m not sure what considerations went into such a phenomenon, but better golf minds than mine were on the case, so there must have been a reason. It popped into my head that a scheduling conflict between the famous auto race and the Indy Women in Tech tournament would be an instant and exciting solution to slow play.
My mistake in a first assessment of Mi Jung Hur was in thinking that she was a newcomer. In fact, she is nearing 30 years of age, and has been on tour for a while. Wrapping up an amateur career in Korea around 2006, she turned pro the next year and went out on the Futures Tour. There, she won once, at the the Louisiana Pelican Classic. Eventually reaching the LPGA circuit, her first win came at the Safeway Classic, where she defeated Suzann Pettersen and Michele Redman in a playoff. In a period of five years from 2009 to 2014, the wins dried up. That took up a total of 111 starts. After her second win, she waited another five.
However, in 2019, Mi Jung Hur has greatly improved clock management in terms of long-term career thinking. Winning earlier in the year, she took the Indy Women in Tech in Indianapolis, leading from first tee to last over four days and beating Norway’s Nanna Koerstz Madsen by four strokes. In her effort, she hit a high number of greens in regulation, and averaged 26 putts per round. From what I’ve always heard, that’s the way to do it. The win in Indianapolis came only seven weeks after her third win.
When asked to comment on why things have shaped up so well, Hur credited her newlywed status as making her more comfortable with herself, less punishing. Major life alterations do have a way of providing perspective, for some relieving the inner anxiety from the professional regimen. Married in 2018, it was nevertheless not a great year, but a little distraction for ‘marital bliss’ is common. However, it certainly set the stage for this year..
The rate at which Mi Jung Hur has upped her game years after beginning reminds us that every athlete is on his or her own clock in terms of development. There are “right out of the gate” types, and there are slow burners who eventually get there. There are those with staying power once on the podium, and there are “flash-in-the-pan careers.” Who knows how things will turn out, whether it’s Mario Andretti or Mi Jung Hur?
The real question remains, “How did those four holes get onto the Indianapolis Speedway?” Perhaps it was just a case of crowded real estate in the city, but I’d like to think that it came into being for a much more funky reason. Another time, perhaps. Meanwhile, let’s add Mi Jung Hur to the watch list. This appears to be her year.