BRYAN, Texas – For many college students, the joy of graduation is heightened by the chance to get reacquainted with home and family.
And then there’s UCLA senior Glory Yang.
You see, Yang has been away from her home country of South Korea – and her parents and siblings – since the age of 14.
Two years before that, Yang enrolled in the Korean Golf Academy. It was there that Yang was discovered to have talent and potential in the game of golf. It was then that her parents made a decision.
“In Korea, when you’re an athlete, you don’t go to school, you just focus on your sport,” Yang said. “My parents decided that I should play golf, but that I also should focus on my education, so I moved here.”
She went to a place called the International Golf Academy, which is now defunct, and worked on her game. Meanwhile, she went to high school at Linfield Christian Academy in Temecula, Calif. Ironically, she did not play golf for her high school team, instead focusing her energy on the junior golf circuit where she made quite an impression.
In the summer of 2006, just before signing with UCLA, she won the Fidelity Investments Junior at Trump National, placed second at the PING Invitational and the Manmi Bank Jr. Open. She also had top-five finishes at the PING Junior at the Woodlands, the AJGA Craig Ranch Junior and the Kathy Whitworth Invitational.
At the time of her signing in November of 2006, Yang was the No. 15-ranked junior player in the country. Not bad for someone who really wasn’t interested in golf when she first started playing.
“My father (a doctor), was really, really into golf for a long time and he wanted me to do it, so I just did,” she said.
This week, Yang has the opportunity to win not only the team title with UCLA, but also the individual championship. Heading into Friday’s third round, her Bruins lead the team standings and Yang herself sat 12th in the individual standings, seven shots off the pace.
Yang said walking up to that first tee box of what will be her final national championship on Wednesday was nerve-wracking, but not for long.
“I was so nervous getting started, ya know, it’s the nationals and it’s my senior year and I was really nervous,” Yang said. “But I made par on the first hole, then I made a long birdie putt on the second hole and that kind of got me started.”
Yang is part of the group of Korean kids known as “Se-Ri’s Kids,” a generation of Korean golfers inspired by the success of fellow Korean Se-Ri Pak on the LPGA Tour. Currently, there are 43 South Korean players on the LPGA Tour who have combined for 80 titles.
Yang says she will not join the list. In fact, she says Saturday’s final round will likely be her last for a while – maybe ever.
“I guess it’s just not really my thing,” Yang says of turning pro. “I’ve just enjoyed the college game so much that I just don’t think anything else would be as much fun.”
So what does she plan to do with her economics degree after Saturday?
“I’m going to go home to Korea and I think just kind of hang out a while,” she said with a smile. “Then just get a job in Korea and be back home.”