The 22-year-old, who earned her LPGA Tour card for 2012 by winning the 2011 U.S. Women’s Open, clinched the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic title in August. This gave her eight top-10 finishes in her rookie season on tour.
Last week, Ryu was tied for fifth in the British Women’s Open, earning 130 points in the Rookie of the Year points race.
She is ahead of all other rookies with 1,061 points total. Alexis Thompson of the U.S. is a distant second with 560 points.
Ryu looks to effectively finish off the Rookie of the Year race, especially against the No. 2 rookie this season, in the Navistar LPGA Classic, which tees off at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Pratville, Alabama, on Thursday.
Thomson is the defending champion, becoming the youngest ever winner in the tour last year, at 16 years old. That record was broken this year by Lydia Ko, 15, a South Korean-born New Zealander, when she captured the Canadian Open.
The U.S. star, ranked third in LPGA driving distance with 272 yards, is expected to mount a tough challenge to Ryu in the rookie points competition.
Two other South Korean favorites, Choi Na-yeon, 25, and Shin Ji-yai, 24, will not participate in the tournament, but Yani Tseng of Taiwan, ranked No. 1 in the women’s world golf rankings, is in the field.
By Chun Sung-woo (firstname.lastname@example.org)