Three-time rookie winner vaults into historical company
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., November 8, 2015 – Sei Young Kim got her rookie year started with a win in a three-way playoff at the second event of the season, and she’ll end her first season on Tour as the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year, the LPGA announced Sunday. Kim clinched the award this weekend when Hyo Joo Kim failed to win the TOTO Japan Classic and after Sei Young put the honor in her grasp with a one-shot victory the previous week at the Blue Bay LPGA.
“I am humbled, honored and at the same time excited to claim this prestigious award,” Kim said. “This is the best award to win. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and it’s great to have won it against the strong 2015 rookie class. My main goal coming into this season was to make a positive impact on the LPGA and improve my Rolex Ranking. Winning the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year is definitely a dream come true, a special surprise and bonus for me!”
The 22-year-old Kim locks up the honor with two tournaments left on the schedule after piling up three victories, one runner-up and six additional top-10 finishes in 25 events and is currently ranked seventh in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. Kim joined Karrie Webb as the second fastest player ever to win in her rookie season with a three-way playoff victory at the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic. Only Beverly Hanson, who won the 1951 Eastern Open in her first LPGA start, has won faster than Kim in her rookie year on the LPGA Tour.
Even more impressive than her win at the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic was the spectacular fashion in which Kim won the LOTTE Championship Presented by HERSHEY in April. She earned ESPN SportsCenter’s ‘Top Play of the Day’ when she holed out a chip on the 72nd hole to force a playoff with Inbee Park. Kim then won the playoff by holing out for eagle from the fairway at the par-4 18th with a 154-yard eight-iron that took one hop and landed in the cup for the win.
Hyo Joo Kim trailed Sei Young by just 97 points in the rookie race heading into the Blue Bay LPGA last week, but Sei Young produced more 18th hole theatrics in China, making a six-foot birdie at the last to edge Stacy Lewis and Kim Kaufman by one shot for her third victory of the year.
Heading into the Lorena Ochoa Invitational, Kim ranks third in the Rolex Player of the Year standings, fourth on the LPGA Tour Official Money List ($1,727,436), and fourth in the Race to the CME Globe standings. With two tournaments left on her schedule, Kim has already earned the third most money ever by a rookie and has a shot to join Lydia Ko as only the second rookie ever to top $2 million in earnings. This is the second consecutive year a rookie has posted three wins on the LPGA Tour after Lydia Ko did it a year ago with a win at the season finale - the CME Group Tour Championship. Kim’s three wins on the LPGA Tour as a rookie ties Ko’s rookie season and hasn’t been surpassed by a rookie since Se Ri Pak won four times as a rookie in 1998.
The Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year award, named for the late Louise Suggs, an LPGA Founder and LPGA and World Golf Hall of Fame member, was established in 1962. Suggs passed away at the age of 91 in August but leaves an unsurpassed legacy behind as the namesake for the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year award. Since its inception in 1962, nine award winners have become members of the LPGA and World Golf Hall 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), Se Ri Pak (1998).