Sung Hyun Park locked up top-rookie honors so early it took the LPGA three days to announce it actually happened
When first-year LPGA pro Sung Hyun Park of South Korea won the U.S. Women’s Open in July, it became a foregone conclusion who was going to win the LPGA’s 2017 rookie-of-the-year race. The question wasn’t if, but when.
Turns out the when was even earlier than LPGA officials imagined. With five events still to play on the schedule, the tour abruptly sent out a release on Wednesday staring that the 24-year-old had mathematically clinched the Louise Suggs Rolex ROY award—three days after the math was actually finalized.
Determined via points system, Park holds a 798-point lead over American Angel Yun. With first-place finishes earning 150 points, Yin could grab only 750 in the year’s remaining events.
“I am honored to receive this award which was one of my goals from the beginning of the season,” said Park, the 11th Korean player to win the honor, said in the press release. “This is really special because you only get one chance in a lifetime. Taking this opportunity, I want to be a better player.”
If the season ended today, Park would win the ROY award with the third-largest margin of victory. Only Karrie Webb in 1996 (1,030 points over Mayumi Hirase) and Se Ri Pak in 1999 (929 points over Janice Moodie) were larger.
In addition to winning the Women’s Open, Park was victorious in August at the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open and has six other top-10 performances in 19 starts in 2017. In the LPGA’s five majors, she posted top-20 finishes in four.
Park currently is the leader on the LPGA money list with $2,092,623, making her the fastest player in tour history to bank $2 million in career earnings (7 months, 13 days). She’s also in the top 10 on tour in scoring average (first, 69.014), birdies (sixth), driving distance (ninth) and greens in regulation (sixth). She is No. 2 on the Rolex Ranking, just behind So Yeon Ryu and No. 2 in the Race to the CME Globe.
There is another year-end honor that is now in Park’s sites: Rolex Player of the Year. Park is third on that points list, trailing Ryu by 11 points and Lexi Thompson by 5.