5 Things: North Korea beckons

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If you were keeping score for North Korea leader Kim Jong II, you may fib on the scorecard too.

Few know what happens behind the shielded steel curtain of North Korea. However, later this year, some golfers will get to take a peek.

Hoping to lure tourists, the isolated country will hold its first amateur golf tournament from April 26-30.

It won’t be hard to find the course.

The North Korean Amateur Open will be held at the Pyongyang Golf Complex, the country’s only golf course. It is located 27 kilometers -- about 17 miles -- from the capital.

The 999 euros ($1,333) entry fee covers visa issuance, all meals, four nights of hotel accommodation and round-trip train travel from China into North Korea.

That’s if your home country let’s you go.

Urban legend says that when Kim Jong II opened the course in 1991, he carded 11 holes-in-one and shot 38 under par ... in his first-ever round of golf.

That sounds more like a miniature-golf feat.

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Anthony Kim appeared to get his career back on track at the 2011 Sony Open.

Is Anthony Kim’s game finally turning the corner?

Kim, who missed much of 2010 after thumb surgery, defied his critics Saturday by shooting 64 in the second round of the Sony Open in Honolulu. It was his lowest score on Tour since carding a 64 at the Honda Classic last March.

“Well, my game is really coming around,” Kim said Saturday. “I’m driving it well. Unfortunately, I’m hitting one or two squirrelly shots a round, and that’s costing me. But I’m getting better, and that’s all I can afford.”

Despite carding three “squirrelly” bogeys on Sunday, Kim shot 68 – 68 and finished T-13, his best result since placing T-7 at the Wells Fargo Championship in May.

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Make room for these girls.

European amateur golf gets more competitive this year with the announcement of a new match between Great Britain & Ireland and Continental Europe. A team of six female golfers from GB&I will play a team from the Continent of Europe at Royal Porthcawl, Wales, June 24-25.

The Ladies’ Golf Union and the European Golf Association agreed to the match. It will involve 12 youngsters, age 16 and younger, going head to head in four sets of matches over two days. All 12 will play in two sets of three foursomes and two sets of six singles matches.

No name has been set for the new match yet. It will be simultaneously played with the ladies’ equivalent, the biennial Vagliano Trophy, which began in 1959.

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Seung-yul Noh with his father, caddie and friend.

What’s harder than finding a good friend? Finding a good caddie.

Seung-yul Noh, last year’s Asian Tour Order of Merit winner, won’t be resting on his laurels as he seeks to raise his status in world golf.

“I want to be more consistent with my game. On some days, I’m good, but the next day, I’m bad. I need to be consistent for four days, regularly. Once I can do that, I can start thinking about winning the big tournaments, including the majors,” said the 19-year-old.

Noh can count on one man to keep him in check in 2011: his father/caddie.

“My dad keeps me focused on my golf. I’ve got a younger sister who likes to go shopping or visit the city with my mum, but I have dad who keeps my mind on golf,” said Noh, who placed T-28 at the PGA Championship last year.

“When I first joined the Asian Tour (in 2008), I didn’t have many friends. Nobody knew me then, and dad was my only friend.”

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Padraig Harrington announcing his new role with the R&A.

Padraig Harrington has achieved a lot in his career, but his latest accomplishment probably wasn’t one he envisioned when he first took up the game.

Harrington recently was named the R&A’s first “Working for Golf Ambassador.” The Irishman will use his position in the game to promote the work of the governing body. Harrington will display The R&A “Working for Golf” logo on his clothing or equipment during the season. He’ll coach young people in the R&A-funded golf development program, appear in Rules of Golf multimedia productions, promote etiquette, take part in bio-mechanical equipment testing and support the work of The R&A Foundation.

Wonder if this fast-tracks him for membership into the Royal & Ancient Golf Club?

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