South Korean golfer Ryu So-yeon has picked up her second LPGA win of the season in Arkansas, rising to the No. 1 spot in world rankings in the process.
Ryu claimed the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas, on Sunday (local time) with a three-round total of 18-under 195. Ryu shot a two-under 69 in the final round to set a tournament record in relation to par, and beat fellow South Korean Amy Yang and Moriya Jutanugarn of Thailand by two strokes.
Ryu, 26, now has five career wins on the tour.
Ryu also soared from No. 3 to No. 1 in world rankings, becoming the third South Korean, after Shin Ji-yai in 2010 and Park In-bee in 2013, to have that distinction.
Ryu So-yeon (Yonhap)
Ryu is the first LPGA player to win multiple tournaments this season. The 15 previous tournaments had produced 15 different champions, including seven South Koreans. Ryu's first win of 2017 came at the season's first major, the ANA Inspiration, in April.
With US$300,000 in the winner's check, Ryu has now moved to first place on this season's money list with a little over $1.2 million. Ryu also leads all players with 2,195 points in the Race to CME Globe standings, thanks to 500 points from this victory.
Ryu held a comfortable, five-stroke lead over two golfers heading into the final round at 16-under. She set the course record Saturday with a blistering round of 10-under 61, thanks to 10 birdies.
And in the final round, Ryu, not needing anything spectacular, played steady golf. She recorded one birdie on the front nine, and traded two birdies with a bogey at the first three holes on the back nine. She then parred the last six holes to close out her win.
Ryu will ride this victory into the second major championship of the year, the KPMG Women's PGA Championship, in Florida starting Thursday.
She said she had been nervous about her chances overnight because anything could transpire on this golf course.
"With a five-shot lead, everybody assumes you're going to win the tournament," she said. "But this is golf. I shot 10-under yesterday, and that means someone had a chance to shoot 10-under as well. I missed the birdie putt at the second but was able to make the birdie at the third. I think that putt made me relax a little bit."
Ryu said her psychologist told her the night before that she shouldn't try to be perfect.
"To be honest, my game wasn't really great compared to yesterday," Ryu said. "I still have a few things to work on, but I am glad to win the tournament. And I'm ready to play another major next week."
Yang, who began the day at nine-under, closed the gap with a roller-coaster of a round before coming up short. Yang had three birdies and an eagle against one bogey on the first nine. Then from hole Nos. 11 to 16, Yang recorded four birdies and two bogeys to reach 15-under, three behind Ryu, with two holes to play.
Yang missed a relatively short birdie attempt at the par-3 17, and Ryu wasn't threatened the rest of the way.
Jutanugarn had a birdie and an eagle over the final two holes to pull into a tie for second with Yang. (Yonhap)