Song leaves team, turns professional

Published: Tuesday, January 27, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 27, 2004 at 12:37 a.m.

Seventeen-year-old freshman golfer Naree Song has left the Florida Gators and has joined the professional ranks, Florida women's golf coach Jill Briles-Hinton said Monday.

Song notified Briles-Hinton she was leaving just days before the spring semester began and has joined the developmental Futures Tour.

Briles-Hinton said Monday she was surprised Naree left so soon.

"To be honest, I didn't know this was coming," Briles-Hinton said. "As far as I knew, she would be here a year then re-evaluate it."

But it was a familiar feeling.

In August, Song's twin sister, Aree, opted not to come to Florida after signing with the school.

She became an amateur on the LPGA Tour.

At the time, Aree needed special permission from the LPGA to play professionally until she turned 18 on May 1.

Her request was granted.

A similar request was made by Naree Song and granted by the Futures Tour.

The Gators are now left with just eight golfers for the spring season including a recently added walk-on.

"It's disappointing," Briles-Hinton said. "But one person doesn't make up a team. We have a tight group, and we're going to pull through this."

Song, from Bradenton, played in four tournaments with the Gators in the fall with a stroke average of 72.7.

Her best finish was a seventh-place tie at the Mason Rudolph Championship in Franklin, Tenn., in late September.

In November, she tied for fifth place with a 213 (69-71-73) in a Futures Tour event in Lakeland.

"Her future is very bright," Briles-Hinton said.

Florida opens its spring season Feb. 9 at the Northrop Grumman Regional in Palos Verdes, Calif.

You can reach Brandon Zimmerman by calling 374-5051 or by e-mail at zimmerb@gvillesun.com

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