There was no vacuum. Yoon In-na, 21, has earned a season ticket to the Australian Tour in addition to her return to the Korean Tour following a suspension.
Ina Yoon carded a final two-round total of 7-under-par 137 to finish in a tie for fourth place at the Women’s Professional Golf Association (WPGA) 2024 Qualifying Tournament at Tweed Heads Coolangatta and Tweed Heads Golf Club (Par 72) in Tweed Heads, Australia on Monday.
Yoon, who shot a 4-under 68 in the second round, finished the tournament in a tie for fourth place and earned a spot on the WPGA Tour season, which is awarded to the top five finishers. As a result of her qualification, she will now be able to compete in WPGA Tour events in January and February.
It’s a testament to her skill that she hasn’t missed a beat since her suspension from the Korean Women’s Professional Golf Association. It’s also good news for the athlete, as it gives her the option of returning to play in South Korea or joining the Australian Tour.
Yoon In-na’s news has been generating a lot of buzz. Yoon In-na, who was once a star on the Korean Ladies Professional Golf Association (KLPGA) Tour with her beauty and long game, was suspended for more than a year for playing the wrong ball.
When she made her debut on the KLPGA Tour in 2022, Yoon In-na was touted as the next big thing in Korean women’s golf due to her impressive long-hitting ability. However, she caused controversy in June 2022 when she failed to immediately report an errant shot at the Korean Women’s Open, instead waiting a month to do so. During the first round of the tournament, Yoon realized that the ball she hit into the rough was not her ball, but she continued to play.
Yoon continued to play in subsequent tournaments and won the KLPGA Tour’s EverCollagen Queen’s Crown in July of the same year. However, the misconduct did not come to light until July, nearly a month after the Korean Women’s Open.
The incident caused a stir in the golf world and among golf fans. It was criticized for shaking the very foundations of the game by covering up what should have been a simple penalty. As a first-of-its-kind incident in Korean golf history, attention was focused on whether and how much discipline would be imposed.
Yoon’s punishment, which was controversial for quite some time, ended up being a suspension. The KGA and KLPGA handed down the three-year suspension in August and September of the same year, respectively. At the time, there were mixed reviews on the severity of the punishment.
However, the KGA stirred up controversy once again in September last year, just over a year after the punishment, when it reduced the length of the punishment itself. After three months of deliberation, the board of directors failed to decide whether to reduce the punishment in December.
In September last year, more than a year after her punishment, she reduced her disciplinary period, sparking controversy once again. The KLPGA also discussed whether to reduce her punishment at its board meeting last December, but failed to reach a conclusion. It was then decided that it would be finalized in 2024.
Yoon In-na’s suspension, which began in September 2022, will end on March 19 this year. As a result, Yoon will be able to return to Korea and compete in Australia this season.
Considering that the KLPGA Tour’s 2024 season opens in Korea in April, she will be able to participate in the tour from the start this season. The Australian Tour is also an option if she wants to play right away.
However, she is undecided on which tournament she will start immediately, or even whether she will play in Australia or Korea. Yoon In-na said, “I don’t have a specific time frame, but I will focus on training until my performance improves to a certain level. For the fans who are hoping for my return, I will continue to train until I am back on the field.”
At the same time, in response to the suspension, Yoon In-na repeatedly bowed her head, saying, “I will not repeat the same mistake again and will play honestly and sincerely according to the spirit of golf and the rules,” and “I would like to apologize once again to all those who were disturbed by my wrongful behavior.”