We caught up with Ji-Hyun Suh the day before the OCA Augas Santas International Ladies Open. She is originally from Seoul, Korea, but lives now in Surrey, England. She left golf for 12 years and this tournament represents her come back to competition.
“I was born in South Korea and live in the UK. I played golf the first time when I was 13. Before I played tennis I used to like very much playing tennis. But my father did not like me playing tennis because I am a woman and didn't want me to run around. I have another four sisters, I am the youngest one, and my father thought it was okay if I was the only one playing sport and he decided that it would be golf.
I started playing golf in Seoul, at the driving range. My father would take me at five in the morning and I would hit balls all day and my hands would hurt. I didn't like it very much, but my father did. So I continued practising from the age of 13 and I became very good. Then, I joined the Korean National team, turned professional in 1998 and afterwards I decided to try and play in America.
I earned my conditional card in the United States and I played there for two years. I found it very difficult because my English was not very good. At that time there were other Koreans on the tour but they travelled with their parents and I travelled on my own.
My father had a business in Korea and my mother was a housewife and couldn't travel with me. It was very difficult and I wasn't sure I was enjoying it because I had a lot of pressure to make money for the next tournament. I did not have any sponsors in America and returned to Korean where a friend told me about the tour in Japan.
I earned an exempt card in Japan and played on the tour. I really enjoyed it more than America because I travelled with friends and after one year I met my husband. He noticed that I was not happy when I played golf, so I decided after we spoke that I would quit and I stopped playing for 12 years. This was in 2002….12 years ago….
Then we moved to the UK and while I was there I became a golf teacher at a driving range and a golf course in Surrey. During that time I never hit a golf ball until the beginning of this year. It is interesting the reason why I started to play again. When I was younger I did not trust in the Lord but now I have become religious. One day, when I was praying, my father came to me and said that I should play golf again. So that is why I'm here.
I started practicing golf again in February this year, but unfortunately I broke my finger playing football as a goalkeeper with my children, Kris and Matthew, and had to withdraw from the first three tournaments on LETAS. So, this one, the OCA Augas Santas International Ladies Open, is my first tournament in 12 years. It is not the same kind of pressure now but the problem now is that I still feel 20 but my body is 20 years older.
When I played 12 years ago my driving accuracy was very high but now it is not so good. I would say that my short game is the best part of my game at the moment. I have started to enjoy golf more but I feel some pressure because of my pupils back in England. They asked me where I am going and I have to tell them that I am going to the tournament so now I know that they will be following my scores online, so I want to do really well. “
We wish you the best of luck for this event and we really hope that you enjoy it!