SEOUL, July 17 (Korea Bizwire) – Thanks to her first LPGA major title at the U.S. Women’s Open, South Korean Park Sung-hyun is a virtual lock to win the tour’s top rookie honors this year.
Park shot an 11-under 277 to win the oldest women’s major championship by two strokes on Sunday (local time) in New Jersey. The 23-year-old shot back-to-back rounds of 67s over the weekend to get past South Korean amateur Choi Hye-jin.
It was Park’s first LPGA win and her maiden major. And she is now in the driver’s seat for the Rookie of the Year honors.
Park earned 300 points to move to 997 points in the race, with Angel Yin of the United States a distant second with 359 points.
Rookies are awarded 150 points for tour victories, 80 points for runner-up finishes and 75 points for third place, and so forth. Points are doubled at the five major tournaments.
Yin missed the cut at the U.S. Women’s Open and didn’t get any points, and now faces an uphill climb with 15 tournaments remaining.
If Park stays in front, she will become the 11th South Korean to capture the LPGA Tour’s top rookie award. Kim Sei-young and Chun In-gee won the rookie points races in each of the past two seasons.
Of the 10 past South Korean winners, only Pak Se-ri (1998) claimed the U.S. Women’s Open as a rookie.
Park also has a chance to win the Player of the Year. She is now in third place with 95 points, with fellow South Korean Ryu So-yeon leading the way at 150 points, followed by Lexi Thompson with 105 points.
Players earn 30 points for each victory, followed by 12 points for finishing second and nine points for ending in third. Points are doubled at major championships.
Park also earned US$900,000 in the winner’s share, the largest on the tour this year, and jumped from 13th to second on this season’s money list with a little over $1.45 million.
Ryu leads all players with about $1.7 million.
Park is tied for second with Thompson in the scoring average with 69.120 strokes per round, as Ryu remained the leader at 69.102 strokes on average per 18 holes.
Park is also expected to move inside the top 10 in the world rankings, after slipping from No. 10 to No. 11 last week.