'Random' trip to Florida has Shon in lead at Sally

Princeton's Kelly Shon

Princeton's Kelly Shon

ORMOND BEACH, Fla. – It’s the halfway point of the South Atlantic Amateur, and the leader didn’t even know this tournament existed just a few weeks ago.

Normally the players who show up for the Sally, and the rest of the Florida Orange Blossom Circuit, are what you might call regulars.

Kelly Shon is an outlier.

Shon hails from Port Washington, N.Y., and is a junior at Princeton. She calls this trip south “random.” It was intended only for practice when she decided she wouldn’t be going to South Korea to visit family for the holidays. Shon’s mother encouraged her to use the time off to hone her game, and Shon’s proof of how hard she worked is in the sock tan.

“I got a lot darker,” she says of her Florida tan. “That says something.”

Shon, who is renting a condo about 20 minutes down the beach, signed up for the Sally at the last minute, after hearing about the tournament through the grapevine. Through two rounds at Oceanside Country Club, she is at 8-under 136, and two shots ahead of Kelsey MacDonald. Shon’s second-round 69 included five birdies and two bogeys.

“It’s short, but it’s fun,” she said of Oceanside. “The greens can get a little tricky at times, and when the wind picks up, it’s going to get a little tougher.”

Shon has played 10 USGA events, and won two AJGA events before arriving at Princeton 2 1/2 years ago. The Sally would be her biggest amateur title, but the most memorable moment of her amateur career could – fingers crossed – come later this summer.

After qualifying for the past two U.S. Women’s Opens, Shon hopes she’ll be able to do it for a third time. This year’s venue, Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y., is close to her Long Island roots. She talks about the possibility cautiously, not wanting to jinx her shot. She needs only to keep up this kind of play, however, which isn’t even what could be considered her "A" game.

“Every part of my game is kind of doing OK,” she said. “There is not one part of my game right now that is outstanding or one part that is miserable.”

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