Hannah Yun appears to be an ordinary collegiate golfer.
The University of Florida freshman tugged on her Titleist cap after a recent practice, talked about her hopes of playing on the LPGA Tour, then zipped off to an afternoon class.
Don't be fooled, though. Yun is one of the most unique NCAA student-athletes in one major way.
She's only 15 years old.
"She's a whiz kid," UF women's golf coach Jill Briles-Hinton said. "A very bright young lady. She has a bright future ahead of her."
Except Yun's future has come to her at an accelerated rate. Yun, who skipped second grade, graduated from Bradenton Prep Academy in just two years by taking extra courses online. She was cleared by the NCAA and joined the Gators' sixth-ranked golf team at the start of this semester. Yun is believed to be the youngest NCAA student-athlete in the country.
Consequently, her college experience is unlike any other. Yun lives with her parents, Changsu and Youngsoon, in an apartment 10 minutes from campus. She can't get her driver's license until she turns 16 on April 12, so her parents drive her to and from campus each day.
Yun is enjoying the experience.
"It's not every day you're 15 you get to go to college," Yun said. "I'm probably not going to get the full experience because of my age and my circumstances here playing golf. But it's good for me to grow as a person and mature and learn about life."
This teenager has blended right in on one of the largest college campuses in the nation.
"She's a very mature 15 year old," said senior teammate Tiffany Chudy, who is six years Yun's elder. "She's very serious and dedicated to golf. That's what allows her to blend in well because we are too."
Yun will compete in her first collegiate event today when the Gators participate in the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge in Palos Verdes, Calif., just outside of Los Angeles. That is somewhat fitting. Just down the coast in San Diego is where part of Yun's rapid ascent through grade school occurred.
Quick rise through school
The first evidence of Hannah Yun's extraordinary intelligence came a decade ago in San Jose, Calif.
After attending first grade at an elite academic early childhood school, the Yuns decided to move their daughter to a Christian school. Yun scored so well on a placement exam, administrators wanted to immediately put her in the fourth grade.
The Yuns however, were wary of how Hannah would fit with children two years older. They opted to move her up just one grade, to third.
Two years later, the family moved to San Diego. There, it became evident Yun was not only an exceptional student, but also a talented golfer. In 2005, the family made a decision that would shape Yun's golfing career. They packed up and moved across the country to Bradenton where Yun would attend the prestigious IMG Ledbetter Golf Academy.
"She decided she wanted to golf for a living," Changsu Yun said. "So we moved to Bradenton."
The family's flexibility is a product of Changsu Yun's career. He is the owner of a software company, which means he can work out of his home anywhere.
Once in Bradenton, Yun began taking high school courses at Bradenton Prep Academy. The course work came so easily, she doubled her workload. Yun started taking online courses in addition to her normal classes.
"She was getting really bored with high school," Changsu said. "Sometimes when you get really bored you tend to fall behind. That's why we decided to give her challenge and double up. It was still pretty easy for her after we did that."
When it became evident Yun was on pace to graduate high school early, the next step seemed inevitable. Yun was ready to go to college.
"Before we knew it I already had enough credits to graduate,'' Yun said. "So we were like, 'What the heck? Let's just do it.' ''
Interestingly, Yun almost never made it to Florida. Yun initially made a verbal commitment to play for the University of Georgia. The Bulldogs have a 17-year-old junior golfer, Alina Lee, who also trained at the IMG Academy in Bradenton. Lee joined the Bulldogs in 2005 when she was 15 years old.
Yun's plan took a turn, however, when Bulldogs head coach Todd McCorkle resigned last May in the wake of allegations he made inappropriate comments of a sexual nature to his athletes.
With McCorkle out at Georgia, that left only one school where Yun wanted to go. Florida.
Adjusting to college life
Yun is mature beyond her years. When she's on campus, other students don't know she's as old as a high school sophomore.
"Most people don't know I'm 15 until I tell them," Yun said. "I have sort of gotten used to the 'Oh my gosh, you're 15 thing?' So I just try not to tell people. Unless I tell them, they don't know."
Chudy has spent some time with Yun outside the golf course. She said in places like the training room, other UF athletes are usually wide-eyed when they learn Yun is 15.
"People have been, like, 'You've got to be kidding me? You're 15?,' '' Chudy said. "She knows it. She's heard jokes about it. I think she's OK with it. She gets along well with everyone and everyone likes her. She's definitely blending in well with this team, that's for sure."
Changsu said the transition to college life wasn't too hard on his daughter. That's because she has spent her whole life in older social circles.
"She's always hung out with kids older than her," Changsu said. "She doesn't seem like she has much in common with her age group because she's always hung around with kids two or three years older than her."
Her teammates have accepted Yun.
"She fits in great," Chudy said. "She's really fun. She's fun to be around. We practice a lot together. We've been out to dinner a couple times. She's a really funny person. Good sense of humor."
Yun, however, is a typical teenager in one respect: She was anxious about fitting in at her new school.
"I think it was just myself getting nervous just because of the change in atmosphere," she said. "It is so big here. But everyone has been very nice to me. So it's been easy."
She's handling her classes well, too. Yun is taking psychology, English, math and a leisure management course.
"At first she was a little hesitant to what might happen," Changsu said.
"Now she says this is where she needed to be to begin with. She says one of the things she noticed about all of the classes is that it really helps her to expand her mind. That's why she likes it."
Briles-Hinton is certain Yun is on pace to one day join the LPGA Tour. However, that might not be for some time.
LPGA rules prohibit players from turning pro and making money on the tour until after their 18th birthday, unless a special exemption is granted.
In 2005, Michelle Wie joined the LPGA Tour at age 15. In January of 2006, Tampa native Morgan Pressel was granted a special exemption to join the tour at age 17.
Yun, however, said she isn't in a rush to turn pro.
"I've already talked to my parents about this," she said. "It would be nice if I turned pro (when I'm 18). But we'll just have to see where my game takes me. I can turn pro when I'm 20 or 18, it just depends on where my game is."
Yun came to Florida owning a No. 54 ranking in the Golfweek/Titleist junior rankings. She fired a team-best score of 71 in a team qualifier and cracked the lineup for the first event of the spring.
From those who play with her, there is no doubting her talent.
"Incredible," Chudy said. "To be 15 and here, you've got to have something. She's already got it. Talent speaks for itself. We just had qualifying and she qualified. Talent speaks for itself in that way."
As quickly as Yun has accelerated through life, she seems to have found a home at Florida. At least, for the moment.
"She'll have her ups and downs," Briles-Hinton said. "It's our job as coaches to give her more ups than downs. She's a marvelous young lady, a bright young lady, and you'll see her name on the tour."year-old takes on UF, golf