Four years ago, Inbee Park produced one of the best seasons in women’s professional golf history, a year that included six victories and three major championships, including her second U.S. Women’s Open title. Park clearly had established herself as the No. 1 player in the world.
Fellow Republic of Korea native So Yeon Ryu is on a similar trajectory as that of Park in 2013. Ryu, the 2011 U.S. Women’s Open champion who turns 27 on Thursday, won her second LPGA Tour event of 2017 on Sunday in the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. She ascended to the top spot in the Rolex Women’s Rankings for the first time and now heads into the next two majors – this week’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Olympia Fields (Ill.) Country Club and next month’s U.S. Women’s Open at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., with a chance to match Park’s 2013 feat.
Ryu won the season’s first major championship – the ANA Inspiration in Rancho Mirage, Calif. – in a playoff over 2008 U.S. Girls’ Junior champion Lexi Thompson.
On Sunday, Ryu backed a second-round, 10-under-par 61 at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Ark., with a 69 to defeat Amy Yang and Moriya Jutanugarn by two strokes in the 54-hole event. Her 18-under total of 195 established a tournament record, breaking the mark set last year by 2012 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion and then No. 1 player Lydia Ko by one stroke. The LPGA Tour’s first multiple winner in 2017 also moved past 2011 U.S. Girls’ Junior champion Ariya Jutanugarn, who held the No. 1 spot in the Rolex Rankings for two weeks.
“Dreams come true! I always dreamed about it. I cannot believe it. I didn’t expect two good things coming together,” said Ryu, reacting to the news of becoming No. 1. “First of all, I really want to appreciate everyone who has been supportive of me, to make me the No. 1 player in the world. That’s finally made my dream.”
Ryu is the fourth straight USGA champion to ascend to No. 1, succeeding Jutanugarn, Ko and Park. The top spot has been held by a USGA champion since Park assumed it on Oct. 27, 2014.
Michelle Wie, the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open champion, registered her sixth top-10 finish of the season after carding a final-round 64 to vault into a tie for fourth at 13-under 200. Wie has yet to win since her triumph at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club, but is trending upward. Park and 2012 U.S. Girls’ Junior champion Minjee Lee tied for sixth at 12-under 201.
Dramatic Win for Spieth in Connecticut
Jordan Spieth had never played the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn., before this week, but the 2015 U.S. Open champion used his momentum from a strong final round in last week’s U.S. Open at Erin Hills to earn a dramatic playoff victory over Daniel Berger on Sunday.
Spieth, 23, of Dallas, Texas, holed out a bunker shot on the first playoff hole, the par-4 18th, to edge Berger after the two were deadlocked at 12-under 268 in regulation. He struggled at Erin Hills through three rounds, but rebounded with an impressive 3-under 69 on Sunday in gusty conditions to finish in a tie for 35th at 1-over 289.