Deaf Golfer Lee Thrives on Asian Stage

One of the finest sounds a golfer can hear is the sweet ping of a perfectly struck drive off the tee. South Korean Lee Sung has hit many perfect drives in his professional career, but he has never heard the sound once. Lee is deaf.

His eyesight, though, is perfect and last week, he was able to look at his biggest cheque of the season, the $76,130 he earned for finishing tied fifth alongside South African star Ernie Els at the BMW Asian Open in Shanghai.

Lee took up golf at 16 after giving up his childhood passion of baseball, because he was unable to communicate with his teammates. He now enjoys the near solitary life of professional golf, with his father and mentor, Lee Kang-kun, being a constant companion.

Kang-kun taught his son how to swing a club based on the actions of Els and Fred Couples and it was naturally a thrill for the 27-year-old to not only play with the Big Easy in Shanghai but to earn his respect.

Els said in the Asian Tour website:

“It’s amazing. So much that we do comes from feeling and sound. A good golf shot sounds good and when you hit a good putt, it comes from good sound. It must be very difficult for him doing what he is doing and he’s doing unbelievable.”

Lee Sung has a simple strategy for how he approaches tournaments. When asked, he wrote down on a piece of paper: “Enjoy”.

He has certainly enjoyed his career, which started off as an amateur in 1990 and resulted in 16 titles within South Korea. After turning pro in 2000, he moved to the United States and played on the Nationwide Tour until 2003, when he lost his card.

PGA Tour regular and fellow Korean Choi Kyung-ju, who would sometimes provide Lee with financial assistance, encouraged the youngster to play on the emerging Asian Tour and he duly won at the Qualifying School in January 2004.

He is now an established Asian Tour pro and rose to 16th on the UBS Asian Tour Order of Merit after his performance in Shanghai.

The future looks bright for Lee Sung, but as his father says, he will go about his work in his own, quiet way.

“My son’s strategy has always been to play it one step at a time.”

In other words, he will continue to “enjoy”.

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