Ha Na Jang has emerged as one of the most quirkily entertaining personalities on the LPGA Tour in recent seasons. It’s a bit sad, then, that’s she’s stepping away from the top tour in women’s golf to return to playing on Korean LPGA Tour.
While she’s found herself embroiled in a couple of odd scandals during her two years on tour, Jang said the desire to be closer to her family is the motivating factor in her decision.
A native of South Korea, she told reporters in Seoul Tuesday
“There was a void that couldn’t be filled even by all the victories. And I made this decision because I decided to spend time with my family as this is more precious than becoming the best golfer in the world. I want to enjoy the rest of my golfing career with my parents and my loved ones around me.”
The 25-year-old is a four-time winner on the LPGA Tour, most recently capturing the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open this February.
Watching her mother grow old from afar has been particularly difficult for the golfer. “I made up my mind after seeing my mother…lead such a lonely life here,” she said, indicating that being the best golfer in the world is no longer her primary motivation.
During her time on the LPGA Tour, she found herself at the center of the bizarre “Luggagegate” controversy. Jang’s father accidently dropped a suitcase down an escalator that took out Jang’s countrywoman, In Gee Chun. Chun was injured in the process, and she had to sit out of the HSBC Women’s Champions, which Jang won.
Jang, who is known for her curious and entertaining victory celebrations, did a Beyonce-esque dance, which many in the South Korean media felt was in poor form, given the cloud of Luggagegate.
“That incident is not the reason why I came back,” Jang said, however. “I’ve already talked to Chun about it quite a bit. I am here because I’ve found something more precious than golf.”
Jang’s decision is not without precedent, Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer, in recent years, have renounced PGA Tour membership to focus solely on playing the European Tour. Momoko Ueda, a Japanese national, opted out of the LPGA Tour to play exclusively in Japan.
Any time an athlete announced their priorities have shifted, we ought to applaud him/her. Complacency and the acceptance of mediocrity have no place in sports at the highest level. If a player isn’t 100 percent invested, it’s best to admit it and move on, lest they become yet another pale journeyman/woman merely going through the motions for a paycheck.