A year ago at the Ritz-Carlton in Naples, Florida, reigning U.S. Women’s Open champion Jeongeun Lee6 was muttering to herself on the putting green. While that sort of thing is not unusual, especially for amateur golfers who call themselves every name in the book, “Six” was not berating herself for missing a 5-footer. She was practicing a speech she had to give later that night at the Rolex LPGA Awards dinner.
At the time she knew a few English phrases. “Hello” and “thank you” and “good shot,” maybe a few more. But mostly she smiled and nodded behind the nervous eyes of someone who wanted to tell you how she felt if only you shared a common tongue. She didn’t grow up in Seoul, South Korea, where English can be found on every street corner. Lee6’s family lives in the small agricultural town of Suncheon, in South Jeolla Province, as far away from city life as you can get in a country that size. Imagine trying to learn Korean in Idaho and you get the idea.
After winning the U.S. Women’s Open in Charleston, South Carolina, last sprin…
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