Ryu hits No. 1 milestone for first time

Ryu So Yeon teeing off at the Northwest Arkansas Championship on Sunday. The South Korean is world No. 1 for the first time.
Ryu So Yeon teeing off at the Northwest Arkansas Championship on Sunday. The South Korean is world No. 1 for the first time.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

ROGERS (Arkansas) • Ryu So Yeon seized the world No. 1 ranking on Sunday as she closed with a two-under 69 at the Northwest Arkansas Championship for her 15th career international golf title.

The South Korean, who won her second Major in April at the ANA Inspiration, finished the 54-hole LPGA Tour event at 18-under 195 for a two-shot win over Amy Yang and Moriya Jutanugarn.

"Dreams come true. I always dreamt about it. I cannot believe it," said Ryu. "I didn't expect two good things coming together."

This is the first time that she has reached No. 1, slipping past Ariya Jutanugarn, the younger sister of Moriya, when the numbers were calculated on Sunday night.

"First of all, I really appreciate everyone who has been supportive of me, to make me the No. 1 player in the world," said Ryu, who is the third Korean after Shin Ji Yai in 2010 and Park In Bee in 2013 to have reached the pinnacle of her sport.

"That's finally made my dream.

"This is going to be my first week as the No. 1 player in the world. I know it's going to be a lot of pressure and I know I can handle a lot of different things."

Ryu is the first player to win twice this season, the previous 15 LPGA tournaments having produced 15 different winners.

The South Korean had not played since the ShopRite Classic two weeks ago, when she missed her first cut in three years. She said the break was just long enough to help her send a series of poor performances to the back of her mind.

"To be honest, today my game wasn't really a great game," she said. "Yesterday my psychologist said, 'Don't try to be perfect'.

"I had to tell myself, 'Okay, don't compare this to any other rounds, just keep focused.' "

The 26-year-old now has five wins on the LPGA Tour, nine on the Korean tour and one on the Ladies European Tour.

She went into Sunday with a five-shot lead at the Pinnacle Country Club course, but said she did not feel confident of a victory until she made the putt on the 17th hole.

"I made a birdie on 17 then I had a really good walk to 18," she said.

"I was really nervous last night. When you have a five-shot lead, everybody is like you are going to win the tournament for sure, but this is golf. I shot 10 under on Saturday and so that means someone had a chance to shoot 10 under today."

Yang made a Sunday charge after starting her day seven strokes back. After the turn, she drained back-to-back birdies to pull within two, but that was as close as Ryu's fellow South Korean got as she ended up with a 64 to reach 197.

Moriya eagled the 18th hole to post a bogey-free 66 and finished a career-best joint second.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 27, 2017, with the headline 'Ryu hits No. 1 milestone for first time'. Print Edition | Subscribe