"It gives me a great sense of fulfillment, as I couldn't win the Rookie of the Year award in Korea but I managed to do it in a bigger Tour in the U.S. LPGA," said Ryu So-yeon, who picked up the coveted accolade on Tuesday.
She is currently in Korea to catch up on her missed studies as a sports science major at Yonsei University. "Because I had to miss a lot of classes when I competed in the U.S., my grade average isn't that great, so I need to study hard to make sure I graduate on time."
In an article titled "Ryu Know It!" LPGA.com officially announced that, regardless of the results of the three remaining competitions this season, Ryu clinched the award by edging ahead of American Lexi Thompson.
Ryu has 1,306 points and Thompson 779 points in the race for the award. Ryu earned a spot to play in the LPGA this season by winning the U.S. Women's Open, which she was invited to compete in after emerging as the money winner on the KLPGA Tour last year.
She has mustered 14 top-10 finishes this season, including her victory at the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic in August. She also ranks inside the top 10 in seven categories, including the number of birdies, top-10 finish percentage and scoring average. Ryu won two gold medals at the 2006 Doha Asian Games with top-notch performances in both the individual and team events, and turned professional in 2008.
She is the ninth golfer of Korean descent to win the Rookie of the Year award. Pak Se-ri was the first to be honored in 1998, followed by Kim Mi-hyun in 1999, Han Hee-won in 2001, Ahn Si-hyun in 2004, Lee Seon-hwa in 2006, Brazilian-Korean Angela Park in 2007, Shin Ji-yai in 2009, and Seo Hee-kyung in 2011. Over the last 15 years, Korea has produced nearly two-thirds of the award laureates.
"I set my goal as winning the Rookie of the Year award this year to prove that my victory at the U.S. Women's Open last year wasn't a fluke. I want to follow in the footsteps of Yani Tseng, who climbed to the top of the world rankings after winning the same award," said Ryu.
The award ceremony will take place during the CME Group Titleholders Tournament, which gets under way on Nov. 15 in Orlando, Florida. Ryu is scheduled to compete at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Mexico next week.