UCF women’s golf will have the 2016 National Junior College Athletic Association champion on their squad next season.
Ji Sun Kang took medalist honors as an individual competitor in the NJCAA National Championship with a total score of 207 (-9) and helped her old team, the Daytona State Falcons, claim the team championship.
“Playing and practicing at the LPGA international course was very interesting to me, because my goal is playing on the LPGA Tour,” Kang said. “It was a great experience for me to win the NJCAA Championship, because I was really wanting to win that tournament so bad. It was my best winning score as well.”
Kang’s journey to UCF started five years ago, when she moved from her hometown of Seoul, South Korea, to live with her uncle in South Africa in order to attend an English-speaking school to prepare for college in the United States. She spent three years going to high school in South Africa before coming to the United States to attend college.
Kang’s father Won Jin Kang introduced her to the game of golf at the age of 9, and he has seen first-hand her development as a golfer.
“She is a great golfer,” her father said. “I’ve seen that in her over the years. Golf is not an easy sport to play, but she never gave up, and she is trying her best to play better and better.”
As a high-schooler, Kang was well-recognized for her golf skills: She won the 2012 Boland Championships and Southern Cape Open, the 2013 South African Girl’s Championship and finished as a runner-up in 2013 South African Women’s Amateur. She was recruited by Division I programs in the U.S, but was a non-qualifier, so Kang attended junior college at Daytona State College before fulfilling her Division I dreams.
After spending two years at DSC, Kang will be a junior transfer for the Knights this upcoming fall. Off the course, Kang will be working on a degree in business management.
Kang will add her championship accolades and experience to a talented UCF roster.
“She’s coming in already playing in Division I tournaments,” said UCF women’s golf head coach Emily Marron. “She has won tournaments in Division I, so we know coming in she’s not a freshman by any means.”
At Daytona State, Kang finished fifth in the 2015 NJCAA Championship, was a semifinalist at Western Providence Championships in 2015 and finished second at the 2015 FIU Pat Bradley Invitational.
“It was an awesome two years in my life,” Kang said. “My golf game has been improved a lot, and coach Brown helped me with my golf game and academics as well.”
Kang and Daytona State head coach Laura Brown developed a great relationship over their two years together.
“We’re pretty tight,” Brown said. “We hit it off right away and had a really good coach-player relationship. She’s an extremely hard worker, very dedicated to the game. She’s also a very funny girl … it was really easy for us to get comfortable with each other right away.”
Brown was instrumental in helping Kang make the decision to attend UCF, serving as a liaison for Kang to get in contact with Marron.
“It was just the connection with Laura at Daytona State,” Marron said, regarding Kang’s recruitment. “Laura has become pretty close with Ji Sun, and I think she kind of wanted to keep her close, only an hour down the road.”
Daytona State has a pipeline of producing quality golfers, so when Brown contacted Marron about an impressive golfer she had in Kang, Marron and her assistant coach Steve Sims began to take notice.
“We’ve seen her play quite a bit and we were just impressed with her game quite a bit,” Marron said “She has the distance to play Division I and her demeanor, her maturity, everything was exactly what we look for.”
Brown believes Kang will excel as a student-athlete at UCF because of her dedication to the game of golf and her study habits.
“I think it will be an easy transition for her,” Brown said. “She’s a very organized young lady with her practices, she had a plan as to what she was doing each week, each month. She’s got confident goals that she’s trying to meet. She’s very organized, very dedicated and she’s very goal-oriented.”
Jean Racine is Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow him on Twitter at @jeangracine or email him at JeanR@CentralFloridaFuture.com