Mi Hyang Lee at Home in South Carolina

Mi Hyang Lee is one of those golfers making up the wave of terrific young Koreans in women's golf. Most young international golfers who come to the LPGA settle in (or at least make their U.S. residence in) Florida, with California and Texas lagging behind. Not Mi Hyang. She's chosen another state, which is surprising enough; but the one she chose must be a particular culture shock.

Mi Hyang Lee is right at home in South Carolina. A very good article about Lee and how she landed in South Carolina recently appeared in The State newspaper, which is the paper of Lee's adopted hometown - and South Carolina's capital - Columbia. Headlined "Rising LPGA star Mi Hyang Lee calls Columbia home," reporter Bob Gillespie writes about how Mi Hyang wound up working with instructor Puggy Blackmon in the Palmetto State:

The first time Puggy Blackmon laid eyes on Mi Hyang Lee, she and her father, Young Lee, were walking toward the USC golf teams’ training center at Cobblestone Park Golf Club on a cold, rainy day in October 2013. The director of golf for USC’s men’s and women’s teams walked over to greet them – and ran slap into a language barrier.

“They didn’t speak much English, and my Korean was non-existent,” the former Gamecocks and Georgia Tech golf coach said, laughing.

Once Young Lee got across the point that his daughter was “interested in joining our women’s team,” Blackmon said he was intrigued. Then he discovered that Mi Hyang Lee was already where his women players wanted to be: qualified for the LPGA Tour.

Thus did Blackmon and Mi Hyang Lee agree to work together – a relationship that, a year later, has resulted in Lee becoming a rising LPGA star, and a Columbia resident to boot.

Blackmon - who has worked with David Duval and Stewart Cink, among others - believes Mi Hyang is possibly "the next big thing" on the LPGA Tour. She's still only 21 years old, but in her second season on the LPGA in 2014, she recorded her first victory and finished 31st on the money list. She also won a Ladies European Tour tournament this year.

As a rookie in 2013, Lee earned less than $70,000; in 2014, nearly 10 times that much. The improvement in her game is easy to see in her scoring average, and Blackmon explained to Gillespie how he challenged Mi Hyang:

In 2013, she earned about $69,000, with a stroke average of 72.8. “I asked her, ‘How much more do you think you’d have made if you cut that to 71.4?’ ” Blackmon said. “She thought about $20,000 (more); I told her more like $500,000-$700,000, and her eyes got big.”

Sure enough, Lee this year cut her stroke average to 71.47, and her earnings included $186,000 for her win in Japan. “She’s met every goal we established,” Blackmon said. If she can cut her average to 70.2, he said, her earning potential could top $1 million in 2015.

Lee plays at Cobblestone Park golf club in Columbia and plans to buy a house there to make it her permanent American home. She's developed a great relationship with the club, whose members treat her like one of their own. The entire article is well worth reading.

Golf Babes Wish You Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays

Kylee Duede (Twitter): "Merry Christmas eve everyone!!!"

Lexi Thompson (Instagram): "Merry Christmas Eve everybody!! Enjoy the holidays with the ones you love and cherish every second of it:) I know I will ❤️"

Amanda Robertson (Instagram): "Merry Christmas Eve! #family #lovelife #blessed #yummyfood #cozyfire"

Camilla Lennarth (Instagram): "A very Merry Christmas to everyone! #Jinglebell #HappyHolidays @dyhrfort"

Maggie Ashmore (Twitter): "Christmas wouldn't be complete without my Grinch onesie. Merry Christmas, y'all!"

Danielle Crilley (Instagram): "Christmas Eve traditions"

Jessica Korda (Instagram): "Ho ho Ho Merry Christmas from our family to yours! ❤️🎅❤️ may all your wishes come true❤️"

Whitney Hillier (Instagram): "Merry Christmas from Perth to all of our family and friends around the world. Hope you all have a great day!! 🎄🎁💝🎅 #xmas2014 #earlyteeoff"

Paula Creamer (Instagram): "What an incredible hike today....Merry Christmas ❤️🎄❤️"

Carly Booth (Twitter): "Merry Christmas!

Christy Yun (Twitter): "Merry Christmas!! Hope it's filled with love, laughter & joy!! #CheersTo2014"

Amy Boulden (Instagram): "Merry Christmas from the Boulden sisters"

Rachel Connor (Instagram): "Santa got my onesie game on point"

Morgan Pressel (Instagram): "Out on the course this morning with my hubby ❤️ Merry Christmas to you all! "

Stephanie Meadow (Instagram): "Merry Christmas Everyone. :) #bestdayoftheyear"

Caroline Martens (Instagram): "Can you tell I'm exited for Christmas? 🎅😜 Merry Christmas everyone!!"

Kiran Matharu (Instagram): "Merry Christmas from me & @sunita_matharu #2014 #family #party #drinks #sisters"

Jodi Ewart (Instagram): "Merry Christmas y'all"

Working Out with Michelle Wie

A few days ago we shared with you a video in which Michelle Wie talks about the new Nike Free TR 5 iD trainers, and how she designs her own shoes through the Nike iD customization program. We titled the post Video: Michelle Wie Talks Nike Shoes While Looking Spectacular, because, well, we thought she looked spectacular.

Over the past few days, on her Instagram page, Wie has been posting photos of her workouts while wearing those new shoes. And she looks spectacular again, although in a different way. It's clear that all this working out is doing wonders for her.

Paula Creamer Shares Bikini Selfies from Her Honeymoon

Paula Creamer is currently on her honeymoon, and we wish her and her new husband a lifetime of happiness. We bet they are pretty happy right now!

Creamer is certainly happy - including happy with the way she's looking. And why shouldn't she be - she has a rockin' bikini bod, and she showed it off on her Instagram account with a couple pics from the honeymoon:

About the top photo Paula wrote: "Good morning from paradise.... Mrs. Heath... Honeymoon ❤️ @beachbunnyswimwear #yesistillhavewhitefeet #golferproblems"

And about the second photo she said: "Mrs. Heath... Honeymoon.. @beachbunnyswimwear ❤️"

Not all that illuminating, but, then, words fail to do justice sometimes.

More Paula Creamer pics

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Supermodel Nina Agdal Catches the Golf Bug

(Photo: instagram/ninaagdal)

The latest celebrity to catch the golf bug is supermodel Nina Agdal, one of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue models. In fact, in the most recent SI swimsuit edition, Nina was one of the three models featured on the cover:

Nina is the one of the left. When she added the top photo to Instagram, it came with this message:

"My golf shoes are cooler than yours."

No doubt Agdal has a lot of things that are cooler than ours! She also posted a video of her golf swing:

Too far. The ball never listens to me.

A video posted by Nina Agdal (@ninaagdal) on

She drops the club and yells, "too far!" at the ball as it veers off course. See, we do have something in common with a supermodel! (And kudos to Nina for sharing this particular swing video.)

Video: Michelle Wie Talks Nike Shoes While Looking Spectacular

Nike posted a video to YouTube in which Michelle Wie discusses the Nike Free TR 5 iD trainers and all the ways in which she's customized hers. You'll want to watch it just because Michelle looks so great in it:

If you want to know more about the shoes, visit the Nike ID store.

More Michelle Wie pics on Golf Babes

Amy Boulden Is LET's 2014 Rookie of the Year

The Ladies European Tour wrapped up its 2014 season at the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters. And that means the tour's 2014 Rookie of the Year race is over.

And Amy Boulden is the winner.

Amy, a 21-year-old from Wales, began 2014 without full status on the tour, but played her way up the rankings. She started by winning on the LET Access Series in May. Her first really top-notch showing in the LET proper was an 11th-place finish at the Ladies European Masters in early July.

A couple weeks later Boulden reeled off consecutive finishes of fourth and third. She later finished runner-up at the Ladies Open de France.

Boulden ended the season with earnings of €83,982.17, 17th overall on tour and first among rookies.

The final Top 5 in the LET Rookie of the Year race for 2014 were:

1. Amy Boulden, €83,982.17
2. Sally Watson, €73,258.44
3. Nicole Broch Larsen, €60,078.39
4. Isabelle Boineau, €28,512.50
5. Chloe Leurquin, €23,093.94

(Photo via instagram.com/amy_boulden/)

Charley Hull Youngest-Ever LET Money Leader

(Selfies via instagram.com/charleyhull1)

Charley Hull is only 18 years old. But she's already in her second season as an LET member, already played in a Solheim Cup, already won tour events.

And now, she's already a tour money leader. With her fifth-place finish in the LET's season-ending Omega Dubai Ladies Masters, Charley won the 2014 Ladies European Tour ISPS HANDA Order of Merit.

Not bad for an 18 year old! Hull's winnings on the LET in 2014 totaled €263,096.69. (At the time of this writing, that converted into $327,910.49.) Boy, I bet Charley's 18-year-old friends are constantly trying to borrow money from her! "Yeah, sure Charley, I'll pay you back next week."

Needless to say - isn't it? - she's the LET's youngest-ever money leader.

Here is the final Top 10 on the LET's 2014 Order of Merit:

1. Charley Hull, €263,096.69
2. Gwladys Nocera, €233,288.65
3. Lee-Anne Pace, €167,005.82
4. Nikki Campbell, €162,545.19
5. Carlota Ciganda, €140,730.27
6. Holly Clyburn, €126,473.09
7. Valentine Derrey, €121,852.43
8. Beth Allen, €110,158.80
9. Florentyna Parker, €107,331.35
10. Laura Davies, €106,565.32

Instagramming with .... Eileen Kelly

Eileen Kelly is a Canadian golfer who was actually born in Costa Rica. But she grew up on the gorgeous and wonderful Vancouver Island, which is home to British Columbia's capital city of Victoria. Now she spends half her time in her hometown and half in the warmer climes of Scottsdale, Arizona.

Let's go Instagramming with Eileen as we learn more about her.

Above, after winning her club championship. Before golf, however, Eileen's focus was on elite-level ballet. She didn't take up golf seriously until age 20.

"Golf requires extreme diligence, patience and attention to detail," Kelly told us. "I believe these qualities reminded me of my ballet training and before I knew it, I was hooked."

"I played my first serious tournament when I was twenty, broke eighty, made the cut and was offered a scholarship on the University of British Columbia Women’s golf team. Ever since then, you can find me grinding away at the golf course."

Except when she's doing yoga, of course. Or celebrating her birthday with her Arizona crew:

Above, from left, that's Lani Strathearn, Alana Erlandson, Eileen and Kylee Duede. Alana and Kylee are also pro golfers. Have you noticed how all the young women golf pros in Phoenix/Scottsdale are gorgeous? Golf Babes has noticed! (Alana and Eileen both represent Longball Inc., a Canada-based golf clothing designer.)

What's in store for Eileen in 2015? "I will continue to work with my swing coach and play Cactus Tour events in Arizona for the first part of the year," she says. "I will head back to my beautiful hometown in Canada for the summer, where I will continue to prepare for first stage of LPGA qualifying school in August."

She's also a fitness buff, and all her work is clearly paying off:

During a typical week Eileen does kickboxing, hot yoga, spin class, weight training, sprints and high-intensity interval training.

And not that more evidence of Eileen's callipygousness is needed, but ...

Want to keep up to date about Eileen Kelly in the future? Of course you do: Follow her on Instagram. If you're on Twitter, follow her there: @eileenk18.

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Charley Hull Becomes Newest Omega Watches Ambassador

Omega has been big in golf, particularly in European golf, for many years now. And the company that makes high-end watches, jewelry and other accessories has a knack for signing big names as endorsers. Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Michelle Wie, for example, are among the golfers who have endorsement deals with Omega, which refers to its "family of ambassadors." Other Omega ambassadors include Nicole Kidman, Buzz Aldrin, Cindy Crawford, Daniel Craig and George Clooney.

That family now includes a new ambassador, the youngest one: 18-year-old Charley Hull. Included in the announcement of the new agreement was this statement from Charley:

"Everyone is aware of the strong commitment OMEGA has made to women's golf. I'm proud to be part of a roster that includes Stacy, Michelle and Shanshan and which is now working closely with the Ladies European Tour."

Those golfers being Stacy Lewis, Michelle Wie and Shanshan Feng, obviously. The company added this note:

OMEGA has been impressed by Charley's relentless spirit and her dedication to her sport. The brand looks forward to seeing what she will accomplish in the years ahead.

As do we all! And it should be fun watching Charley grow up in golf, sporting her gleaming Omega wristwatch. Hull was the LET's Rookie of the Year in 2013, and won her first professional title at the 2014 LET Lalla Meryem Cup days before turning 18. Of course, she famously became the youngest-ever Solheim Cup player in 2013, and played very well - including a singles victory over Paula Creamer.

Charley will continue playing the LET in 2015, but also has conditional status on the LPGA for next year. In 2014, with no LPGA status, she got into nine LPGA tournaments, so expect that number to grow in 2015.

Smart investment by Omega, getting Charley Hull on board now.

Alison Lee and Minjee Lee: 2014 LPGA Q-School Medalists

The Final Stage of the 2014 LPGA Qualifying Tournament just wrapped up, and there were co-medalists this year: Alison Lee and Minjee Lee (no relation). Let's learn a little bit more about them.

Minjee Lee

(Photo: minjeegolf/Twitter)

Minjee is the better-known to this point of the 2014 co-medalists. She's an 18-year-old Australian who has had some high finishes as an amateur on various pro tours. That includes a victory: Early in 2014 Minjee won the ALPG's Oates Victorian Open.

Lee was the winner of the U.S. Girls Amateur in 2012, and won the Australian Women's Amateur back to back in 2013-14. Her performances in pro events, while still an amateur, was good enough to move up the Rolex World Rankings to the point that she was one of four members of Team Australia at the inaugural International Crown on the LPGA. But before that, Minjee helped Team Australia win the Espirito Santo Trophy, one of the most prestigious amateur team tournaments.

She turned pro in September, and was the No. 1-ranked amateur in the world at the time. Minjee was exempt from Stage I of LPGA Q-School, but advanced out of Stage II by tying for fifth place.

Alison Lee

(Photo: Alisonn_Lee/Twitter)

Alison Lee was still an amateur when she started the Q-School process, but is now a pro and a member of the 2015 LPGA Tour. She gave up her final two years at UCLA to turn pro.

Alison had to play all three stages of Q-School. She finished tied for fourth at Stage I and was runner-up at Stage II. And, of course, tied Minjee for first place at the Final Stage. That's called making a run.

Lee is a 19-year-old Californian who won the ANNIKA Award (the first one), given to the country's top female college golfer, after her sophomore season, just past. That was after being named Freshman of the Year in the NCAA one year earlier. She also compiled a 3-1-1 record at the 2014 Curtis Cup.

Among Alison's college wins are the 2014 Pac-12 Championship and Betsy Rawls Invitational, and this past year she set the UCLA school record or lowest season scoring average.

The 2014 co-medalists are certainly worthy, and both should have something to say about the 2015 Rookie of the Year race on the LPGA.

Say Hello to Candra Sumedhatip

(Photos by Jody Rael Photography/Jody Rael)

The "desert triangle" of American golf is formed by California, Las Vegas and Phoenix. And Candra Sumedhatip knows all three well. She was born in California but now calls Las Vegas home, and spends plenty of time training and practicing in Phoenix, too.

The Phoenix/Scottsdale area is a great place for young golfers to work on their games, for all the courses and all the great instructors there. But also, in the case of women golfers, because it's the home of the Cactus Tour.

And the Cactus Tour is one of the places you could have found Sumedhatip in 2014.

"2014 was a promising season," Candra told Golf Babes. She was "in the money in 7 of 8 events on the Cactus Tour."

One those included her best showing of the 2014 season, a runner-up finish in her hometown Las Vegas tournament. Candra also competed in multiple state opens over the course of the year.

That's a schedule that she'll probably follow again in 2015 as she works toward lower scores and bigger paychecks.

"I see a stronger swing and stronger body" in 2015, Sumedhatip said. In addition to Cactus Tour stops and state opens, Candra plans to enter Monday qualifiers in the coming year as she works her way back to LPGA Q-School.

At Q-School this year, Candra went out in the first round - a disappointing finish, but one in which she finds the promise of a better showing next time.

"Q-School first stage in Palm Springs was a bit of a disappointment, missing the cut by three shots," she said. "Although on paper it didn’t seem impressive, it was the best I have ever struck the ball. Just have to work on making more of those putts drop!"

Candra has a leg up on 2015 by virtue of signing on three sponsors for the year. That's a very big deal for golfers working toward Q-School, especially in women's golf where the paychecks are so much smaller. Super Shuttle, ZTrip and ExecuCar will be supporting Candra in 2015.

You can follow her journey on social media: On Twitter, find Candra @CSumedhatip, and on Instagram @CandraSumedhatip.

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Michelle Wie Named Sportswoman of the Year by NY March of Dimes

(Photo: twitter.com/themichellewie)

Michelle Wie was honored today at the March of Dimes New York Division's 31st annual sports luncheon as the Sportswoman of the Year.

The New York chapter's sports luncheon is a tradition in the New York/New Jersey sports scene, with lots of big names attached every year. And it's a great fundraiser for the venerable March of Dimes charity, raising more than $10 million over its three-decades-and-counting run.

The organization summarizes Michelle's exploits this way:

Since an early age, Michelle Wie has commanded international attention for her prodigious golfing ability and her charisma, making her one of the most influential athletes in women's sports. Michelle graduated from Stanford University in March 2012 with a degree in Communications. She has won four events on the LPGA tour, including her first major championship at the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open, as well as having shot the lowest round ever recorded by a woman golfer in a men's PGA tour event. In 2000, at the age of 10, Michelle became the youngest qualifier ever at the USGA Women's Amateur Public Links Championship. Over the next three years she electrified Hawaiian golf with victories and shattered records for youngest ever in virtually every category. While continuing her education at Stanford in 2009, Michelle entered 19 LPGA tournaments making 17 cuts, eight top-ten's, two third's, two second's and her first career LPGA victory at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational by Banamex and Corona Light, finishing the year with $918,659 in prize money. Michelle also played on the 2009 Solheim Cup USA Team, which defeated the European Team 16 to 12 with Michelle, and her playing partners earning 3.5 of 4 possible points. Michelle’s 2014 campaign has been a “career year.” Just one week after nearly winning the LPGA’s first major of the season at the Kraft Nabisco Championship (she finished second), Michelle returned to her native Hawaii and won the LPGA Lotte Championship for her third-career LPGA win. Two months later, she earned her first major championship victory at the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst No. 2.

(Photo: twitter.com/LPGA)

A Q&A with the chairman of the luncheon's steering committee, CBS Sports president Sean McManus, appeared on the website newjerseynewsroom.com. This exchange is worth repeating:

What is the one thing you hope people who leave the lunch every year remember?
That they are making an immediate different in the lives of young people. Every year people come for the first time and are really blown away by the stories they hear and the kids and families they meet, and we want that to continue. We are very grateful that the sports media industry turns out every year and takes time from such busy schedules to not just support, but attend the lunch, and we think that combined with the stories of the recipients, it makes for a memorable few hours every year.

No question that Michelle Wie, who has a strong record of philanthropy, will come away from the luncheon with those things in mind. And if you're somehow unfamiliar with the March of Dimes, the organization's mission statement is this: "We help moms have full-term pregnancies and research the problems that threaten the health of babies."

About the photo at the top, Michelle tweeted:

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