South Korean star Park Sung-hyun received her trophy as the LPGA Tour's top rookie of 2017 at a ceremony in the United Stated on Thursday (local time).
Park was presented with the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year trophy during the LPGA ceremony at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort in Naples, Florida. It was held after the first round of the LPGA's season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.
In this photo provided by the LPGA Tour, Park Sung-hyun of South Korea holds the trophy for the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year during an awards ceremony at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort in Naples, Florida, on Nov. 16, 2017. (Yonhap)
Park actually clinched the points race for the top rookie honors in mid-October. She had opened a 1,413-615 lead over Angel Yin of the United States with five tournaments remaining. Rookies earn 150 points for each victory, which is doubled for majors and the CME Group Tour Championship. Yin was only scheduled to play four more events at the time and wouldn't have been able to catch Park.
The 24-year-old former Korea LPGA star won the US Women's Open for her first LPGA win and her first major in July, and she followed up with a win at the Canadian Pacific Women's Open in August.
She became the first rookie to reach No. 1 in the world rankings last week, but her reign lasted just one week, as Feng Shanshan of China soon brought her down to No. 2.
Heading into CME Group Tour Championship, Park was leading the LPGA in money and was in second place in scoring average. She was also in third in the Player of the Year points race, within striking distance of the current leader, Ryu So-yeon of South Korea.
In this photo provided by the LPGA Tour, Park Sung-hyun of South Korea poses with the trophy for the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year alongside LPGA legend Annika Sorenstam, who presented Park with the award, during a ceremony at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort in Naples, Florida, on Nov. 16, 2017. (Yonhap)
No rookie has won the money title, scoring title, Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year in the same year since Nancy Lopez in 1978.
In a video message recorded prior to the ceremony, Park looked back on how she failed to win the KLPGA Rookie of the Year in 2014 and how she was driven to reach greater heights afterward.
"I had good seasons in 2015 and 2016, and made my way to the LPGA Tour in 2017. I was really grateful for the opportunity," Park said. "I had a chance to realize my dream again. I was determined to do the absolute best I could. And I was able to accomplish my goal toward the end of the season. I am thankful because you can't win the Rookie of the Year twice."
Asked about her feelings after the end of the video, Park responded, "Thank you. This means a lot." (Yonhap)