Former UC Berkeley golfer dies of unknown causes

Diane Kwon

Diane Kwon, a former UC Berkeley women’s golf team member known for her bright personality on and off the course, died Tuesday at her Fremont home of unknown causes. She was 21 years old.

Kwon competed with the Bears for two seasons from 2008 to 2009 — during which she posted results at both Pac-10 and NCAA West Regional tournaments — and the fall semester of the 2009 to 2010 season.
According to the Alameda County Coroner’s Bureau, Kwon’s death is currently under investigation, but no information is known yet.

Melissa Dudek, assistant media relations director at University of California Athletics, said in an email that Kwon chose to leave the team for unspecified reasons her sophomore year.
Dudek said Kwon’s “enormous personality” was one of the most distinctive on the team.
“The thing that everybody remembers the most about her is that she was such a friendly and outgoing person,” she said.

Kwon played golf as a student at John F. Kennedy High School in Fremont, Calif., where she was the first-ranked player and MVP four years in a row.

In addition to her high school accolades, Kwon was a member of the Junior Golf Association of Northern California America’s Cup team.

She also earned an honorable mention All-American distinction from the American Junior Golf Association in 2007 and was the San Francisco City Women’s Division Golf Champion for both 2006 and 2007.
“We are all stunned and deeply saddened by the loss of Diane,” said Nancy McDaniel, head coach of UC Berkeley’s women’s golf team, in a statement. “Over the years that Diane played for us she was a fierce competitor while still managing to be a gracious sportswoman.”

During her freshman season at Cal from 2008 to 2009, Kwon posted a 13th-place finish at the Edean Ihlanfeldt Invitational in Washington. In June 2009 Kwon shot a three-under to win the 79th Annual Long Beach City Golf Championship in southern California.

But Kwon’s presence on the team extended beyond greens and fairways, according to UC Berkeley senior and teammate Emily Childs.
“Diane Kwon was not only a great golfer but she was a great friend,” she said in a statement. “Her love for life was infectious and everyone who knew her could attest to that. She was not only tons of fun but Diane was also a compassionate and loyal person.”
McDaniel said in the statement that Kwon’s brightness will be missed.
“What struck me most about her was her vivacious personality and the friendships that she forged wherever we went,” she said.
Childs — who roomed with Kwon while she was on the team — said Kwon’s lively attitude and quirks were a source of constant happiness.

“I consider myself lucky to have been one of her close friends while in college,” Childs said in the statement. “A couple things you may not know about Diane was that she was a really good dancer and she put ketchup on everything. I only wish everyone could have experienced the joy she gave to me.”

On her player biography, Kwon listed Tiger Woods and her father as her biggest influences and said that with one day to live, she would want to drive in a NASCAR race.

A service at Chapel of the Chimes on Mission Blvd. in Hayward is scheduled for Friday at 7 p.m.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Kwon was 22 years old at the time of her death. In fact, she was 21.