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Han earns girls golf Sun/Rotary POY
It's a good thing she was bad at softball, because Yesong Han is one heck of a golfer.
The Cibola sophomore has come a long way in her two-plus years on the tees, as she was named Yuma Sun/Rotary Club 2011 Girls Golfer of the Year.
In middle school, Han tried her hand at softball, playing with other current Raiders like Bethany Olea and Alexis Evans. Safe to say, she wasn't Babe Ruth reincarnated.
“I was terrible,” Han said.
Her father had just started playing golf a couple years earlier so he pushed her to try the sport. After dabbling with golf a little bit during eighth grade, Yesong and her father spent two months of the next summer in Southern California, developing her game. A year later, Yesong could compete with — and even beat — her father.
“There was a point where I beat him really bad that he just stopped for a week,” Han said.
The two still share a competitive relationship when they're out on the golf course, but it's all part of the plan. Han can remember her first high school tournament, but for all the wrong reasons. She remembers being shaky and nervous and shanking her first drive of the day. After that, Han's dad started bringing her out to the course and changing the tone of the atmosphere.
“If I made a joke, he'd be, like, ‘This is serious, you need to get serious,'” Han said. “My second tournament I wasn't really scared at all. I just thought of it as if I was going with my dad.”
Nowadays, they play at least once every weekend, while Han spends a lot of her weekdays at the driving range and polishing her short game.
“We always play,” Korey Han said. “After school, we come (to the course) and play. She studies and after that — just golf.”While her father was the reason she got into golf, Yesong Han called Se Ri Pak her inspiration. Pak, one of the world's top female golfers, is also Korean. With the help of Mark Croft, Cocopah Golf Course's PGA professional who has taught several other high-profile prep golfers, Yesong Han is shooting in the high 70s and low 80s now.
Taking a look at her golf bag, the first thing that sticks out is her club cover — a stuffed dog. But if Korey Han had his way, the floppy, cross-eyed pooch wouldn't be in Yesong's bag yet.
“I really wanted a club cover but my dad said, ‘You got to go to lower 70s if you want to get one,'” Yesong Han said. “Then my aunt felt bad for me so on my birthday she got it for me.”
As Yesong has improved, the Han household has also become engrossed in the game. The Golf Channel is almost always on the TV, and if it isn't, Korey will change it. During the Masters in late April, Yesong and Korey Han also watched the Korean feed of the tournament, with Korey breaking down swings in slow motion. But it doesn't take a special occasion for Korey Han to try to teach his daughter.
“He wakes me up at 6 in the morning — I can't even get ready for school,” Yesong Han said. “I'll be watching a baseball game and my dad will come in from another room and say, ‘Hey, there's golf on.'”