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Published: Friday, 8/15/2003

Han turns up heat in 4-week stretch

BY MATT MARKEY
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

The heat is still on for Han, who shot a 3-under 68 in yesterday's opening round of the Jamie Farr Kroger Classic at Highland Meadows. She is three shots behind leader Laura Diaz, and in an 11-way tie for seventh place.

“I played pretty well,” said Han, a native of Seoul who still makes her home in South Korea.

“I was putting pretty good, and that usually makes for a good score.”

Han, who started on the back nine, was even after five holes, and got to 2-under when she made the turn. A birdie on No. 6 got her to 3-under, and she finished with three pars.

“I just hit it straight, and kept the ball in play,” said Han. “It doesn't matter how you do it, it is just good to be under par at the end of the round.”

Han, who shot 68-65-66-199 to win the Wendy's Championship last week, joined the LPGA tour in 2001 and won $612,747 last year, making the cut in 24 of 27 events with three second-place finishes.

Han, who started playing golf at age 9 and qualified for the tour on her first attempt, said she does not pay a lot of attention to the leader board, or how her playing partners are doing during the course of the round.

“I just focus on my game,” Han said.

“I try not to think about other things, just on how I am playing, and how I need to hit the next shot.”

Han, one of a number of Korean players who have quickly made a place for themselves on the LPGA Tour, said the schedule is very demanding.

“It is hard, especially with all of the travel. The travel is hard to adjust to,” she said.

Han, who was the Rolex Rookie of the Year in 2001 with four top 20 finishes, followed that up with seven top-10 finishes last year. This season she ranks ninth on the tour in scoring average at 70.68 strokes per round.



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