Ha Na Jang chats to the media on Tuesday.
Ha Na Jang has a nickname that reflects the passion she exudes on the golf course. She calls herself 'The Ha Na-giser' after the battery, and fans at the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open in Adelaide this week are about to have a treat watching her.
Jang, 23, is the world No. 9 after her breakthrough win in the Coates Championship on the LPGA Tour in Florida less than a fortnight ago. She is also one of the most interesting players to watch; she celebrated with a Samurai sword routine, replacing her sword in an imaginary scabbard.
The American-based South Korean player makes no apologies for her flamboyance. She grew up watching Tiger Woods, Christina Kim and John Daly, all gregarious players, and thought it was the path she would take. It is just her character. "I tried it (the Samurai) in a practice round,'' she said. "I thought: 'I'm going to try the Samurai'. It was really fun.''
Jang said her overt celebrations began right back at 12 years of age when she qualified to play in the Korean Open. "The galleries were clapping and I thought 'this is nice'. It's my character, it's my image.''
Her coach, Kevin Kim, does not discourage it. ''I think it's good,'' said Kim. "She's very competitive and that's probably whey she does it. At times she can get a little bit too emotional because she wants to win so badly. But it just comes from will to win and the hard work she's put in. It's more natural than anything else.
"It's something you don't often see in golf, maybe in the Ryder Cup but not in stroke play events or individual play. I think it's good for golf when Hana does what she does. It draws attention to the game.''
Jang will be one of the favorites at The Grange this week in her second trip to Australia. She contended for a time at Royal Melbourne last year but fell away, but this time she comes into an event as a winner. She spent a lot of last year fretting over a few missed opportunities, including four tournaments where she was perceived as having thrown away a potential victory. "She was really stressed out,'' said Kim. "When you lose tournaments after leading for three days it feels worse. The winning slipped out of her hands.''
She believes maturity will be the big difference for her this year in an event which she puts alongside other national Opens like the US Open and the Korean Open. "I like firm greens, firm fairways, strong winds, so there's no problem this week. It's very important. The Australian Open is a really big tournament, like the US Open and the Korean Open because they are national championships. A country's Open is a really big honor if you have a chance to win.''