Deaf Golfer Leads GS Caltex Championship
(Korea Times Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)By Moon Gwang-lip
Lee Seung-man, who is deaf, is leading halfway through one of the country's most prestigious golf tournament, the 25th GS Caltex Maekyung Open Golf Championship now under way in Yongin, Kyonggi Province, 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Seoul.
The 26-year-old golfer scored a six-under 66, including seven birdies, in the second round, leaving him two strokes ahead of second place Kim Sang-ki.
With bogey-free five-under 67 that lifted him in the lead along with Lee In-woo and Seok Joung-yul in the first round, Lee is now 11-under.
The 600-million-won ($600,000) championship, held at the Lakeside Country Club in Yongin, is the opening tournament of the Korea Professional Golfers' Association season. The winner will receive 120 million won.
Born almost completely deaf, Lee cannot hear unless someone shouts into his ear. He communicates with simple words and by reading lips.
Ignoring the impairment, Lee turned to golf and showed talent from the age of 7.
Lee won 16 times in Junior events and selected as a "Bright Golfer" to go to Ledbetter Golf Academy in 1997.
Choi Kyoung-ju, the first South Korean PGA regular and most popular male golfer in Korea, has become Lee's mentor since first meetingat the Shell Houston Open in 2000.
Choi once gave $ 20,000 to Lee to help gain experience in Asia tour events. Choi is not in the GS Caltex field.
In the Friday's round, Seok made six birdies and three bogeys to get to 3-under and fell by one stroke to third, shared by Lee Seung-ho who shot four-under for two days.
First-round leader Lee In-woo struggled in the second round, carding 3-over to fall to 32th place.
American Bryan Saltus and India's Amandeep Johl are the only foreign players in the top 10. Saltus shot 3-under and 4-under in the first and second games, respectively, to come in fifth while Johl carded 6-under for the tournament to tie for sixth. A total of 50 non-Korean nationals are participating in the championship.
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