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USGA gives Pebble Beach special exemption to another past U.S. Women's Open champion

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So Yeon Ryu holds the trophy after winning the 2011 U.S. Women's Open in a playoff.

Mike Ehrmann

The USGA announced on Monday that another past champion has been given a special exemption into this year’s U.S. Women's Open at Pebble Beach. So Yeon Ryu, the 2011 winner at The Broadmoor, will tee it up when the governing body holds the women’s championship for the first time at the famed Monterey Peninsula course, July 6-9. Ryu joins Annika Sorenstam as the second recipient of a special exemption.

“I am excited and honored to accept this special exemption into the U.S. Women’s Open,” the 32-year-old South Korean native said in a release. “This championship means so much to me, and to be able to compete in it again, and to do so at a place as special as Pebble Beach, is thrilling, and I am so grateful to the USGA for this opportunity. I look forward to teeing it up there in July.”

A six-time LPGA Tour winner, including the 2017 ANA Inspiration, Ryu has been a consistent top performer over her 13 career starts at the U.S. Women's Open, posting top-25 finishes 12 times. That run includes six top-fives. However, given her past success at the major, Ryu surprisingly missed the cut at Pine Needles last year.

That missed cut exemplified the rapid change in Ryu's results in 2022. She posted two top-10s in 20 starts on the LPGA despite a career 39 percent top-10 rate. The challenging end to the 2022 season for the former World No. 1 has continued into early 2023, as Ryu has missed seven straight cuts dating back to the LPGA Mediheal Championship last October. The only event she played without a cut over that stretch was the BMW Ladies Championship, where she finished T-66 in a 78-player field. As a result, her world ranking tumbled down to 112.

In addition to Ryu and Sorenstam, 10 other U.S. Women’s Open champions are currently exempt into the field, while two more will attempt to qualify. The USGA will host a Reunion of Champions during championship week, an event that is bringing together many of the 46 living U.S. Women’s Open champions for the first time since 2014.