The LPGA today announced that South Korea’s So Yeon Ryu (pronounced So Yun Yoo) has accepted the 2012 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year honors with three tournaments remaining in the 2012 season. Highlighting the LPGA as Golf’s Global Tour, Ryu becomes the eighth South Korean to claim Rolex Rookie of the Year honors dating back to LPGA and World Golf Hall of Fame member Se Ri Pak in 1998.
“First of all, I want to give thanks to Se Ri Pak, Hee Won Han, Grace Park and all of the first generation Korean players because they opened up our road and we can follow in their steps,” Ryu said. “This year the rookie class was so strong with Lexi Thompson, Sydnee Michaels and a lot of really, really great players, so it’s an honor to win the award.”
Ryu outlasted Lexi Thompson for the top rookie honor on the strength of 14 top-10 finishes through 22 events, including a victory at the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic Presented by Kroger, Owens Corning and O-I in August where she carded a career-best 62 in the final round to become a Rolex First-Time Winner. The 22-year-old earned LPGA Tour membership by winning the 2011 U.S. Women’s Open as a member of the Korea LPGA (KLPGA).
“Winning the U.S. Women’s Open last year as a non-member was a really huge thing for me, but I really worried that some people might think it was just one lucky win,” she said. “That was a huge pressure on me, so I set a goal to win this award and add another trophy. I’m so proud of myself to be eighth Korean to win the Rookie of the Year.”
The 22-year-old came out of the gates hot this year, nearly winning the season-opening ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, where she tied for second after losing to Jessica Korda. Her point lead could have been much larger, but she struggled in the first three major championships this season where points are doubled. Ryu redeemed herself at the RICOH Women’s British Open where she tied for fifth.
The rookie is currently in the top-10 of seven statistical categories including top-10 finish percentage, birdies, putts per GIR, rounds in the 60’s, scoring average, rounds under par and eagles. She leads Thompson by 527 points with three tournaments remaining. Victories are worth 150 points in the Rolex Rookie of the Year race.
“Yani Tseng is No. 1 on the Rolex Rankings and she was a Rookie of the Year, so I really want to take that road and follow in Yani’s steps now,” Ryu said.
The Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year award, named for LPGA Founder and LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame member Louise Suggs, was established in 1962. Since its inception, nine award winners have become members of the LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame: Joanne Carner (1970), Amy Alcott (1975), Nancy Lopez (1978), Beth Daniel (1979), Patty Sheehan (1981), Juli Inkster (1984), Annika Sorenstam (1994), Karrie Webb (1996) and Se Ri Pak (1998).