DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., September 23, 2014 – The Symetra Tour is known as the ‘Road to the LPGA’ and for Min Seo Kwak that road has never been easy. Kwak’s dedication, courage and perseverance never shined brighter than this year and her peers took notice. Kwak was voted the Heather Wilbur Spirit Award recipient for 2014. She was presented with her award on the 18th green during the award ceremony following the Symetra Tour Championship. She also received her LPGA Tour card for finishing second on the Volvik Race for the Card money list.
“I’m honored to receive this award from my fellow Symetra Tour players,” said Seoul, South Korea native Min Seo Kwak. “Everyone on the Symetra Tour was very encouraging to me all year and that is a big reason why I was able to play so well this year.”
The Heather Wilbur Spirit Award was established in 2003 to honor former Symetra Tour player Heather Wilbur, who lost her battle with Leukemia in 2003. Wilbur was the first recipient of the award.
The award recognizes the player who best exemplifies dedication, courage, perseverance, love of the game and spirit toward achieving goals as a professional golfer.
Volvik Race for the Card No. 1 Marissa Steen, who is one of Kwak’s good friends on Tour, presented her with the award.
“Min Seo always has a smile on her face,” said Steen. “She is in a good mood everyday and it is contagious to all of those around her. Min Seo has a strong work ethic, which undoubtedly has played a vital role in her success. Even though she has come across obstacles in her career, as all golfers do, Min Seo’s dedication and positivity has paid off. I am honored to be graduating to the LPGA Tour next year alongside Min Seo Kwak.”
Kwak pieced together a career year that included her first two wins at the Chico’s Patty Berg Memorial and the FireKeeper Casino Hotel Championship. She posted seven top-10 finishes and made the cut in all 17 event played. She finished the season second on the Volvik Race for the Card money list with $69,143.
Although success has followed her this year that has not always been the case. In her first year on Tour (2009), she finished 57th on the money list and made just $9,040. The following her, she showed modest improvement and finished 51st with $10,281. Prior to this season, Kwak has never earned more than $13,620 in a single-season on the Symetra Tour.
Even when she earned LPGA Tour status by way of LPGA Qualifying Tournament, Kwak struggled. She missed the cut in four of five events played on the LGPA Tour last year.
Kwak has persevered and is now ready to play full-time on the LPGA Tour in 2015 armed with the best golf game she has ever had.
Around the Tour, Kwak is known as one of the most happy-go-lucky players. She always has a wide smile on her face and her patented ‘Kwak wave’ is well known.
Her spirit shined through in Harris, Mich. at the Island Resort Championship when Kwak decided to buy dinner for the entire field and Tour staff after round two as a token of her appreciation for her fellow competitors.
During both of her victories, fellow players welcomed her to the 18th green with chants of ‘Kwak, Kwak, Kwak!’ and she embraced them with her usual wide smile and wave.
2014 – Min Seo Kwak
2013 – Melissa Eaton
2012 – Nicole Jeray
2011 – Izzy Beisiegel
2010 – Mo Martin
2009 – Malinda Johnson
2008 – Katie Fraley
2007 – Jenny Hansen
2006 – Katie Connelly
2005 – Salimah Mussani
2004 – Lindsay Wright
2003 – Heather Wilbur