Just as the golfer Se Ri Pak battled the perennial L.P.G.A. contenders Annika Sorenstam as well as Karrie Webb for tournament wins inside late 1990s as well as early 2000s, there can be a brand-new budding rivalry.
the entire world’s top-ranked golfer, Sung Hyun Park, as well as the third-ranked So Yeon Ryu, both of South Korea, largely play down the head-to-head comparisons, however on most weeks in L.P.G.A. competition, very little separates them.
as well as with the Evian Championship at Evian-les-Bains, France, just ahead, the chance to grab another major win could give one woman an edge, if only for the moment.
Evenly matched throughout 2017, they were named the L.P.G.A.’s co-players of the year, as well as Park finished first in season earnings while Ryu finished second.
as well as although Ryu was awarded the tour’s 2017 Rolex Annika Major Award as the best performer in each of the L.P.G.A.’s all 5 majors, Park became the first player to win two top honors inside same year since Nancy Lopez reached of which milestone in 1978.
“Sung Hyun was just a rookie last year, however she won rookie of the year as well as co-player of the year, as well as won twice, including the U.S. Women’s Open,” said Ryu, 28, at of which point in her seventh L.P.G.A. season. “of which was a great achievement.”
Park as well as Ryu wound up in a playoff against each various other at of which year’s Women’s P.G.A. Championship, which Park won.
Ryu had carried a three-shot lead into the final round of the tournament, however dropped into a tie with Park as well as Nasa Hataoka of Japan. Hataoka failed to match birdies with Park as well as Ryu on the first playoff hole.
Ryu drained a 16-foot birdie putt to put the pressure on Park on of which first extra hole, however Park gamely drained an eight-foot downhill putt to continue the playoff.
“So Yeon made a actually long birdie putt of which was electrifying,” said Park, 24, of Seoul, who won on the second playoff hole which has a seven-foot birdie putt. “I thought to myself she was a great player as well as of which I needed to focus.”
Ryu admitted disappointment at the loss, however said she had no regrets because her play at of which major championship was one of her career-best performances.
“When I look back at how Sun Hyung played, she was just meant to win of which tournament,” said Ryu, also of Seoul.
When Park won, the usually stoic star sobbed on the shoulder of her caddie, David Jones, who said his player was feeling pressure after missing four cuts in her previous six events.
“The tears came today because she understood how hard of which was to win of which week,” Jones told ESPNW.
On paper, Park as well as Ryu each have two career major championships. Ryu has six career L.P.G.A. wins, while Park has all 5.
inside L.P.G.A.’s 2018 Player of the Year race, Park can be No. 2 in points with Ryu at No. 5.
Park has posted all 5 top-10 finishes of which season with three wins as well as six missed cuts. Ryu has recorded all 5 top-10s with one win as well as no missed cuts.
however just as Se Ri Pak always had either Sorenstam or Webb between her as well as her next tournament trophy, Park as well as Ryu — because they are through the same nation — have each various other to stoke a budding head-to-head comparison in a friendly yet competitive way.
“I think of which’s a Great thing,” Park said, when asked about Ryu. “At every tournament, So Yeon can be a consistent player as well as she can be very impressive. of which’s great motivation to keep working hard.”
as well as while both players said today’s L.P.G.A. tour had many various other players who also warrant their weekly attention as well as competitive respect, Ryu admitted Park had forced her to find different ways to win.
“One of her strongest things can be she hits of which actually long … as well as I have no chance to beat her distance-wise,” Ryu said. “If I cannot beat Sun Hyung in distance, what can I do better? of which motivates me.”
Park can be ranked fifth in driving distance of which season, averaging about 271 yards off the tee to Ryu’s 259.5-yard average (ranked 41), however Ryu’s putting average (29.25) as well as scoring average (70.10) lead Park’s output at 29.93 as well as 70.49, respectively.
After the L.P.G.A.’s Cambia Portland Classic, Ryu had also recorded 290 subpar holes in 69 rounds at 18 tournaments compared with Park’s 243 subpar holes in 57 rounds in 18 events.
however any advantage between the players can be slight. as well as while Ryu tends to stay steady throughout the season, Park, a momentum player, can appear to win just as easily as she can miss the cut.
In a seven-tournament stretch of which year, Park missed a cut, won the next event, missed her next three tournament cuts, including the United States Women’s Open as the defending champion, won the Women’s P.G.A. Championship, as well as then missed her next cut.
“I have had a pretty challenging season,” Park said. “I’d actually like to win another one soon.”
Ironically, Park as well as Ryu posted their career-best finishes at the Evian Championship when they tied for second in 2016.
Park tied for 26th last year in her only various other Evian start. Ryu’s second-best finish in seven Evian starts came in 2013, when she tied for fourth.
Ryu had another chance to win a major when she finished third at of which year’s Ricoh Women’s British Open. Being of which close at a major Just as before made her start thinking about winning the career Grand Slam, which was achieved by her best friend, the L.P.G.A. Hall of Fame member Inbee Park.
Ryu said of which after she won the ANA Inspiration in 2017 she “started off to dream about becoming a Grand Slam winner.” She had already won the 2011 U.S. Women’s Open.
Even with major wins at the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open as well as 2018 Women’s PGA Championship, Park said she was not yet thinking about winning the career Grand Slam.
“of which’s pretty difficult as well as I’m trying not to think of which far ahead,” she said.
As for their second-year rivalry as well as comparison to tour leaders of the previous generation, Park sees no correlation.
“I don’t think I’m playing at the level of Se Ri as well as Annika yet,” she said. “of which seems far off for me.”
Ryu called the L.P.G.A. “more of a global tour” than of which was 10 to 15 years ago, which has a wider range of players through around the entire world who can win. of which’s not just about her as well as Park, she said.
“however if Sun Hyung as well as I can be iconic players for the L.P.G.A., of which will be nice,” she added.