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NISSAN OPEN At RIVIERA : At 16, Park Has Own Gallery, Media Entourage

February 23, 1996|CHRIS FOSTER

Jin Park, one of the youngest players to qualify for the Nissan Open, began Thursday's first round a wide-eyed 16-year-old and left a media darling, at least in Korea.

Park, who shot a 68 Friday at Chino to qualify for the event, was followed throughout the day by two local Korean television stations, two reporters from local Korean newspapers and three correspondents from newspapers in Korea.

It was a long walk for all. Park, a junior at Fullerton Sunny Hills High, shot a 79.

"I think I had too many expectations today," said Park, who was born in Seoul.

"I was expecting to come out here, play well and make the cut. It was a lot tougher than I imagined."

Park is one of only two 16-year-olds to qualify for the event. Bobby May was also 16 when he played in 1987, according to tournament officials.

Park was one under par through five holes, but faded on the back nine, with a bogey on 13, a double bogey on 14 and a bogey on 15.

Still, he was in demand for interviews afterward.

"All we've had is Chan Ho Park," Jonathan Heo, assistant editor of the Korean Central Daily in Los Angeles, said of the Dodger pitcher. "Now we have something else to write about."

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