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Ryu So-yeon wins sixth LPGA Tour title

Victory sets her up for UL International Crown in Oct.
June 19,2018
Ryu So-yeon took her sixth LPGA Tour title on Sunday, winning the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give at Blythefield Country Club in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

With six birdies and a bogey, Ryu shot five under par at 67 in the final round, finishing two shots ahead of Carolina Masson of Germany.

Ryu, who was the leader during the first two rounds, started the final round ranked third. By making three birdies in the first nine holes, Ryu moved up the leaderboard to 19 under par.

A bogey on the par-5 11th allowed the other players to move up a spot to tie the lead, but Ryu quickly brought back her sole lead by making a birdie on the next hole, the par-3 12th. By making back-to-back birdies on 16th and the 17th hole, Ryu extended her lead for her sixth LPGA victory.

“Actually, I was incredibly calm today,” Ryu said after the round. “When I felt that, I was like, ‘maybe it could be my day.’ My putting turned out to be really great. I was nervous, but at the same time, I was able to focus on my game and focus on my shot instead of thinking about other players.”

This is Ryu’s first victory since her win at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in June 2017. She took home total prize money of $300,000 and became the 19th player on the LPGA Tour to exceed total career prize money of $9 million. This was the first time in five weeks that a Korean golfer won an LPGA tournament.

“I’m really proud of myself today,” Ryu said after the round.

Throughout the tournament, Ryu’s statistics were beyond impressive. She hit 83.3 percent of the greens in regulation and averaging 28.75 putts per round. During the first round, Ryu did not miss a single green, hitting 100 percent of the greens in regulation.

Ryu, who turned professional in 2008, started playing on the LPGA Tour in 2012 after winning the U.S. Women’s Open in 2011 as a non-LPGA Tour member. In her first five seasons on the LPGA Tour, Ryu won only two tournaments. Finally, in 2017, she reached her peak. She held the top spot in the Rolex Women’s World ranking for 19 weeks and won two tournaments. By the end of the season, Ryu had won the Annika Major Award, was named the player of the year and ranked second on the LPGA’s money list.

Despite her successful 2017 season, Ryu got off to a slow start in 2018. She only had two top-10 finishes this year prior to Sunday’s tournament.

Ryu needed the win to qualify for this year’s UL International Crown. Since only four players per country compete in the tournament, the four highest-ranked Korean golfers after the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship will qualify to represent Korea at the UL International Crown in October. Ryu is en route to represent Korea once again, as she is now the second-highest ranked Korean golfer in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings after Park In-bee.

“I really wanted to compete at the International Crows,” Ryu said. “That motivated me, but at the same time, it pressured me. But this tournament allowed me to get closer to being on the Korea national team.”

Now that Ryu has locked in her spot on Team Korea at the International Crown, she will defend her titles in the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G from June 22 to 24.

BY KIM Ji-HAN, KIM DU-YONG [kang.yoorim@joongang.co.kr]