Golf: Lots different about Park Sung Hyun

Park Sung Hyun, seen here at the Evian Championship in September, is the first LPGA Tour rookie to be crowned world No. 1.
Park Sung Hyun, seen here at the Evian Championship in September, is the first LPGA Tour rookie to be crowned world No. 1.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESS

BEIJING • South Korean sensation Park Sung Hyun has no trouble living up to her nickname "Namdalla".

The moniker, which loosely translates to "I am different", is apt for the first Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour rookie to be crowned world No. 1 after a season in which she won her first golf Major.

The 24-year-old, who knocked compatriot Ryu So Yeon off top spot on Monday, is the fourth South Korean world No. 1 since the rankings were introduced in 2006 after Shin Ji Yai, Park In Bee and Ryu.

"I was very surprised and amazed by what I've achieved," she told LPGA.com in Hainan island, where she will play in the Blue Bay LPGA tournament that starts today. "This is all too sudden for me, and it hasn't hit me yet."

She took top spot exactly a year after she held a press conference in Korea to announce she would take up membership on the United States-based LPGA Tour. At that point, she had won seven times on the Korean LPGA Tour, was a contender in three Major championships and had risen to world No. 10.

Her incredible form carried through to this year, with two wins including the US Women's Open, top-20 finishes at three other Majors, and nine top-10 finishes. A consistent player, she has never missed a cut in her 29 career LPGA Tour starts.

She romped away with the LPGA's Rookie of the Year honours long before this season ended and with two tournaments to go, she is ranked second in the Player of the Year standings.

Only Ryu, who is sitting out this week, is ahead of Park, who is seeking to become just the second player in history after Nancy Lopez in 1978 to be both Rookie and Player of the season in the same year.

"I have to admit there's a lot riding on the next two tournaments," said Park, who will also compete at next week's CME Group Tour Championship.

"I know I have a great opportunity, and I'll try to concentrate on each and every hole."

Initially, her aim was to become No. 1 within three years of moving full-time to the LPGA.

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  • Number of South Korean world No. 1 women golfers since the rankings were introduced in 2006 - Shin Ji Yai, Park In Bee, Ryu So Yeon and Park Sung Hyun.

"I've accomplished my goal a lot faster than I'd planned, and it does put some pressure on my shoulders,"she said. "But I am also determined to keep trying harder and harder."

Even for "Namdalla", some things will stay the same.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

BLUE BAY LPGA
Day 1: Singtel TV Ch114 & StarHub Ch208, 12pm

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 08, 2017, with the headline 'Lots different about Park indeed'. Print Edition | Subscribe