Ha Na Jang is no stranger to the LPGA, having won four times in 2½ years on tour in 2016 and 2017. The 27-year-old has the opportunity to return if she wishes, after shooting a final-round 65 at the BMW Ladies Championship, then winning the title in her native South Korea in a three-hole playoff over Danielle Kang.
Jang left the LPGA in May 2017 citing a desire to return home and be closer to her parents. She resumed her career in Korea, where she has won 12 times on the KLPGA since turning pro in 2010. By winning on Sunday as a non-LPGA member, Jang can re-join the LPGA Tour immediately or take membership once more in 2020.
Jang’s place on the KLPGA money list earned her a spot in the field at LPGA International Busan, and she settled in quickly with rounds of 69-67-68 to sit one off the lead entering the final round.
Kang, a winner a week earlier at the Buick LPGA Shanghai, was two back and got off to a fast start on Sunday. The American, who has ties to the Busan area (she lived there parts of several years as a child due to her father’s job) made eight birdies in her first 13 holes, charging to a four-shot lead at one point before finishing with a bogey-free 64, the low round of the tournament.
Jang was playing impressively, too, shooting a back-nine 31 with a birdie on the 17th hole that tied Kang at 19 under overall and forced the playoff.
The pair matched pars on the first extra hole before Kang lipped out a 12-foot birdie try on the second that would have given her the title. On the third playoff hole, the par-4 10th, Jang hit her approach to four feet. When Kang missed a 20-foot birdie try, Jang rolled in her putt for the win.
Jang’s victory is even more impressive considering her current physical state; for at least a month she’s been dealing with a hairline stress fracture in her foot. She managed the injury en route to a victory three weeks ago in Korea, but had to withdraw from her last two starts, a pair of majors on the KLPGA.
Jang faces a different type of play-or-not-play decision in the coming weeks regarding a return to the LPGA. To become a member in 2020, she must notify tour officials by Nov. 18.
“As for going back to the LPGA, there’s a lot to discuss,” Jang said. “My mother is not quite well yet. I think I would have an answer for you regarding returning to the LPGA later on. I can’t say right now.”