RYU CONTINUES SOLID PLAY, BUT STILL LOOKING FOR ELUSIVE VICTORY
So far in 2017, So Yeon Ryu has played in four events, and her results have been nothing short of spectacular. The 2011 U.S. Women’s Open champion finished tied for second with Austin Ernst, her third top-5 result and fourth top-10 finish of the year.
“I felt like everything is pretty great,” said Ryu, who has not missed a cut since the 2014 ShopRite Classic. “When your game is kind of like perfect you’re able to win. Mine cannot (be) called perfect yet, but I think it’s good enough.”
But despite her strong play, Ryu has not hoisted the trophy since the 2014 Canadian Pacific Women’s Open, a streak of 61 tournaments. Going into next week’s ANA Inspiration, Ryu feels confident that her turn may finally be at hand.
“I’m definitely ready to win at some point,” said Ryu. “I just need to keep it patient and need to trust myself (that) I’m good.”
ERNST HOPES TO PARLAY GOOD KIA PERFORMANCE INTO SOLHEIM CUP BERTH
Austin Ernst finished tied for second and notched her best result of 2017. She also helped bolster her claim to a berth on the USA Solheim Cup Team, as Ernst held the eighth and final automatic qualifying spot going into the week.
“I really want to make Solheim this year,” said Ernst, who has one LPGA Tour victory to her name. “At the same time, solid golf takes care of it. I been playing really solid all year. Just keep doing those things and I’m going be in contention, which is what gets the points at the end of the week.”
AHN SETS TOURNAMENT RECORD, DESPITE CLOSING BOGEY
In 2016, Shi Hyun Ahn won the KLPGA’s Kia Motors Korea Women’s Open Championship. As part of her winnings, she received a sponsor exemption into this week’s LPGA Kia Classic, and she certainly made the most of the opportunity. Competing in only her third LPGA Tour event since 2011, Ahn converted 10 birdies – and one lone bogey at No. 18 – on Sunday to set the tournament and course record with a 9-under 63.
“I try to (make) every shot and I make it. Just feel like easy today,” said Ahn, who started her round in 69th at 3 over and ultimately finished at 6 under for the tournament.
This week marks the first time Ahn has played on North American soil since the 2011 CN Canadian Women’s Open. She received LPGA Rookie of the Year honors in 2004 after finishing second at the LPGA Championship and John Q. Hammons Hotel Classic, and captured her lone LPGA victory at the 2003 CJ Nine Bridges Classic. Recently, Ahn has played primarily on the KLPGA, though she has played in the KEB LPGA Hana Bank Championship in her native South Korea for the last two years.
LUCY LI WINS JUNIOR ANA INSPIRATION, EARNS BERTH IN SEASON’S FIRST MAJOR
Lucy Li, who took the golf world by storm when she qualified for the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open at age 11, won the 2017 Junior ANA Inspiration and earned the final berth in next week’s ANA Inspiration. The tournament, conducted by the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA), gave 40 of the world’s top junior female amateurs the opportunity to play their way into the season’s first major, being held at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California.
Now 14, Li earned a four-stroke victory and qualified for the second major championship of her young career. Her final round on Mission Hills’ Dinah Shore Course featured a pairing with LPGA Tour legend and six-time major champion Pat Bradley. Twenty LPGA legends participated in the day’s event.
“I’m just so excited right now and I can’t wait to play next week,” said Li. “The greens here are so pure and the rough is really thick. I had a lot of fun playing here. I want to thank all the LPGA legends for playing with us this week. I had so much fun with Pat Bradley. She made it so enjoyable and relaxing and I learned a lot from her.”
BY THE NUMBERS
- 1.329 – The projected points differential between World No. 1 Lydia Ko and World No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn heading into next week’s ANA Inspiration, the season’s first major
- 1.503 – Ko’s points lead over Jutanugarn coming into the Kia Classic; Ko missed the cut, while Jutanugarn tied for 21st
- 2 – Times that Mirim Lee has held the 54-hole lead at the Kia Classic; she was not able to secure the title in 2015, but emerged victorious in 2017
- 3 – LPGA Tour victories for Mirim Lee (2014 Meijer LPGA Classic Presented by Kraft, 2014 Reignwood LPGA Classic, 2017 Kia Classic)
- 4 – Rounds in the 60s shot by Mirim Lee (68-68-67-65)
- 6 – Margin of victory by Mirim Lee over So Yeon Ryu and Austin Ernst, the largest span since Lexi Thompson earned a six-stroke win at the 2016 Honda LPGA Thailand
- 32 – Number of spots in the Rolex Rankings that Austin Ernst is projected to jump in tomorrow’s updated listing
“It’s really great to see Korean players keep playing well. Also, I always feel very proud to see many Korean companies sponsoring the LPGA tournament. We just have a kind of like responsibility to play well on the LPGA.” - So Yeon Ryu, on the support the LPGA Tour receives from her native South Korea