Last 3 Women’s Open Champs Seek Win

Ji, Creamer, Ryu hope to end long droughts this week at Blackwolf Run

Defending champion So Yeon Ryu has not reached the winner's circle since last year's playoff win at The Broadmoor. (Fred Vuich/USGA)
By Stuart Hall
July 5, 2012

Kohler, Wis. – As perplexing a puzzle as Blackwolf Run is to solve, this U.S. Women’s Open venue seems an unlikely one at which to figure out how to get back into the winner’s circle.

Thursday’s 8:06 a.m. CDT grouping of Eun-Hee Ji, Paula Creamer and So Yeon Ryu represented the last three winners of this championship. Yet as learned as they are at passing such a stern test, each of them arrived searching for a return to winning form.

None of the three players has won since their respective U.S. Women’s Open titles, combining for a winless streak of 119 starts on the LPGA Tour. Ji, who won the 2009 U.S. Women’s Open at Saucon Valley Country Club, has gone 62 starts since winning, followed by Creamer (43) and Ryu (14).

“It's frustrating,” said Creamer, 25, who won at Oakmont Country Club in 2010. “At the same time it's motivating. I'm trying to learn how to channel the energy that I have from being frustrated into making it positive, and it's been hard. It's been very difficult. I set such high expectations for myself, and to not have won since 2010 is kind of crazy to me, but it is reality, and I've been working very hard.”

Considering that even-par 72 is respectable, none of the three players was overly concerned with their first-round scores of 73 (Creamer), 74 (Ryu) and 76 (Ji).

“Disappointing yes,” said Ji, 26, of Korea. “It was really hard today to focus on my game. I played pretty good until that last hole when I just didn’t think right.”

Ji, whose only other LPGA win came in another major (the 2008 LPGA Championship), arrived at the 385-yard, par-4 ninth hole – the grouping’s 18th –  at one over par for the round. After missing her only fairway of the round, Ji had 150 yards to clear the creek fronting the green and 160 yards to the hole. Going against her caddie’s advice, Ji drew her approach shot into the water en route to a triple bogey.

That finish aside, Ji believes her game is on the uptick. After 59 consecutive finishes outside the top 10, Ji tied for 10th at the ShopRite LPGA Classic and tied for second at the LPGA Championship before missing the cut at last week’s Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.

“I have been working on my swing a lot,” Ji said. “I was not comfortable with it last year or the year before, but it’s getting better right now.”

While Ji’s form has been mysterious, Ryu’s winless streak is a bit less alarming.

Prior to winning last year’s Women’s Open at The Broadmoor, Ryu had won seven times on the Korean LPGA Tour, the last one coming just a month before winning her first major in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Ryu’s playoff victory over Hee Kyung Seo earned the 22-year-old Korean playing privileges on the LPGA Tour for 2012. There has been a slight adjustment period to life in the United States, but her rookie season has been stout with six top-five finishes, including a tie for second at the Australian Open.

As for Thursday’s opening-round 74, Ryu faltered late, bogeying three of her final four holes.

Afterward, Ryu wanted to go eat Korean food and dissect the problem.

“It's not a technical problem,” she said. “I think it's a mental problem. I just want to be more focused on the game.”

On a day in which the heat index pushed well past 100 and the temperature and humidity climbed each hour, the trio managed to find respite under sun umbrellas and the occasional bench, such as on the par-3 13th as they waited for the teeing ground to clear. 

During the wait, talk turned to the weather, to which players sweat a lot and proper apparel if these conditions continue through the week.

“[The weather] is such another element … you're not thinking 100 percent clearly all the time,” said Creamer. “I think that's the hardest fight and battle out there, trying to just be in the shade as much as you possibly can. I'm not the biggest sun umbrella fan, but I used it almost every hole.”

While her fellow competitors bogeyed the final hole, Creamer was leaving the Kohler premises on a positive. She made a 6-foot birdie putt on No. 9 to close out the 73.

Who knows, that might also be the first step to winning again.

“It's going to happen,” said Creamer, who has had 10 top-five finishes in her drought. “I'm not too scared about that. It will come around, and, you know, it's just a battle of fighting through all this.”

Stuart Hall is a North Carolina-based freelance writer whose work has appeared previously on USGA websites. 


Follow the USGA
Become a Facebook Fan of the USGAFollow us on Twitter @usopengolf
World Amateur Golf Ranking
WAGR Counting Event
Partner Links
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image

The USGA and Chevron have committed to using the game of golf to encourage students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. This commitment has led to the creation of extensive golf-focused STEM teaching tools, and has resulted in charitable contributions to support golf-related programs through Eagles for Education™

At U.S. Open Championships the Chevron STEM ZONE™ is an interactive experience highlighting the science and math behind the game of golf through a variety of hands-on exhibits and experiments.

The partnership has also produced educational materials such as the Science of Golf video series and a nationally-distributed newspaper insert which are provided to teachers as tools to enhance existing curriculum in schools. These lessons teach the science behind the USGA’s equipment testing, handicapping, and agronomy efforts.

For more interactive experiences featuring golf-focused STEM lessons, visit the partnership homepage.

Chevron image

Rolex has been a longtime supporter of the USGA and salutes the sportsmanship and great traditions unique to the game. This support includes the Rules of Golf where Rolex has partnered with the USGA to ensure golfers understand and appreciate the game.

As the official timekeeper of the USGA and its championships, they also provide clocks throughout host sites for spectator convenience.

For more information on Rolex and their celebration of the game, visit the Rolex and Golf homepage.

Rolex image

IBM has partnered with the USGA to bring the same technology, expertise, and innovation it provides to businesses all over the world to the USGA and golf's national championship.

IBM provides the information technology to develop and host the U.S. Open’s official website,, as well as the mobile apps and scoring systems for the three U.S. Open championships. These real-time technology solutions provide an enhanced experience for fans following the championship onsite and online.

For more information on IBM and the technology that powers the U.S. Open and businesses worldwide, visit

AmEx image

Lexus is committed to partnering with the USGA to deliver a best-in-class experience for the world’s best golfers by providing a fleet of courtesy luxury vehicles for all USGA Championships.

At each U.S. Open, Women’s Open and Senior Open, Lexus provides spectators with access to unique experiences ranging from the opportunity to have a picture taken with both the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open trophies to autograph signings with legendary Lexus Golf Ambassadors in the Lexus Performance Drive Pavilion.

For more information on Lexus, visit

AmEx image
American Express

Together, American Express and the USGA have been providing world-class service to golf fans since 2006. By creating interactive U.S. Open experiences both onsite and online, American Express enhances the USGA’s effort to make the game more accessible and enjoyable for fans.

For more information on American Express visit

AmEx image