Jang Ha-na quits LPGA Tour: Scandal, controversy and Beyonce

Ha Na Jang
Jang Ha-na has won four titles on the elite LPGA Tour

South Korean golfer Jang Ha-na looked, on the surface at least, to be carving out a successful career.

The 25-year-old, ranked 10th in the world, had won four titles on the LPGA Tour, earning her more than £2m in prize money.

But Jang, famed for her quirky victory celebrations, has endured a tough year off the course and this week announced she was quitting the main tour to return to South Korea's domestic circuit.

She cited being closer to her mother as the primary reason, but Jang has had to withstand her fair share of criticism following a bizarre event in Singapore in March last year.

Speaking in Seoul on Tuesday, she said: "I thought being world number one was the only goal in my life and that was where my happiness comes from.

"But I realised there are many more important things than that. Even though I won four times, I still felt empty inside.

"I made this decision because being with my family is more important to me than being the world's top golfer."

Luggage-gate

In March 2016, Jang and Chun In-gee were travelling to the HSBC Women's Champions tournament - two compatriots battling for the chance to represent their country at the Rio Olympics.

But when a bag being carried by Jang's father crashed down an escalator at Singapore's Changi Airport, Chun sustained a back injury and was forced to withdraw from the tournament.

Korean media reported Jang's father had lost his grip on the 7kg carry-on bag as he watched his daughter tie her shoelace.

In Chun's absence, Jang won the HSBC Women's Champions tournament, propelling her into one of the four Olympic spots held by South Korea, and temporarily relegating Chun.

Chun recovered to qualify for Rio, while Jang missed out - and she insists the incident played no part in her decision to cut short her career in the United States.

"That's not why I decided to come back," she said.

"I've already spoken to Chun In-gee a lot about that incident. The reason I've decided to come back is that I've found something more precious than golf."

'Now put your hands up'

Ha Na Jang & Beyonce
Jang takes inspiration from Beyonce's Super Bowl half-time show

While Chun's fans were irked by the initial incident, Jang's Beyonce-inspired celebration on the 18th green in Singapore exacerbated their irritation, and created a storm in the Korean media.

When Jang, then 23, knocked home her final putt, she did a celebratory dance modelled on Beyonce's routine from her hit single Single Ladies.

Jang's moves were nothing new - she pulled off a Samurai-inspired manoeuvre after winning the Coates Championship in February last year, and celebrated victory in the Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship in October with a jig.

But golf fans were angered by her apparent disregard for the injured Chun, winner of the 2015 US Women's Open.

The controversy rumbled on, with Jang reduced to tears at subsequent media conferences, and it was another four months before she recorded a top-10 finish.

But she is clear she is putting her family first in moving back to Korea.

And, having registered eight wins on the Korean Tour before moving to the US, her return is not without its financial benefits.

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