Shin, Ryu seek to continue solid form
By Kang Seung-woo
Shin Ji-yai and Ryu So-yeon, the hottest two Korean golfers currently on the LPGA Tour, are looking to continue their run of good form.
Shin, 24, who claimed back-to-back titles at the Kingsmill Championship and the Women’s British Open over the last two weeks, will chase her third title in as many appearances at the Japan Women’s Open Golf Championship next week. The 22-year-old Ryu will compete at this week’s Navistar LPGA Classic in Prattville, Ala., as the top contender in the best rookie race.
Shin, a 10-time LPGA Tour winner who returned home Tuesday, will fly to Japan today to prepare for the year’s third major on the Japan LPGA (JLPGA) Tour one week ahead of its start.
Although Shin, who turned pro in 2006, has mainly competed on the Korean and U.S. Tours, she has triumphed in Japan five times including two titles from the Mizuno Classic, co-sanctioned by the JLPGA and LPGA Tours.
In addition, despite her recent tough schedule ― a two-day, nine-hole playoff in Williamsburg, Va. and a one-day, 36-hole round in Hoylake, England ― she is determined enough to stand atop the leaderboard to only stay home for two days and train in Miyazaki from Thursday.
“Rather than coveting an individual title for the remainder of the season, I will try to keep my current mood going,” Shin said on her arrival in Korea.
After earning a Tour card on the back of last year’s U.S. Women’s Open victory, Ryu added to the win column at the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic in August, the only rookie to capture a win this season.
However, she has a more impressive resume than her lone victory suggests in her debut year.
In 18 appearances, the 13th-ranked Ryu has 10 top-10 finishes and has made the top five three times in the last four tournaments, putting herself in contention for rookie of the year.
She is sitting 10th in both the money rankings with $906,510 and putting average at 29.33, while posting a seventh-best scoring average of 70.75.
In best rookie points, the Korean is the runaway leader at 1,061, 489 ahead of runner-up American Lexi Thompson, known for her long tee shots.
The 17-year-old Thompson, who has two top-five finishes including a tie for second at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic, became the youngest champion in LPGA Tour history at age 16 last year, winning by five strokes at last year’s Navistar tournament.
The competition between the top two young golfers is expected to get fiercer yet.
If a rookie takes the Navistar title, she will be awarded 150 points, while the runner-up and a third-placed golfer will gain 80 and 75 points respectively.
This week’s field will also feature world No. 1 Yani Tseng of Taiwan, American Stacey Lewis and Kraft Nabisco winner Yoo Sun-young.