South Korea’s So Yeon Ryu won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship on Sunday to become the LPGA’s first two-time winner this season.
With a huge five-stroke lead after firing a course-record 10-under par 61 on Saturday, world number three Ryu carded a 69 in her final round to beat compatriot Amy Yang and Thailand’s Moriya Jutanugarn by two shots with a tournament-record score of 18 under par.
After the win, Ryu said an early birdie helped calm her nerves.
“With a five-shot lead, everybody assumes you’re going to win the tournament,” she said.
“But this is golf. I shot 10-under yesterday, and that means someone had a chance to shoot 10-under as well. I missed the birdie putt at the second but was able to make the birdie at the third. I think that putt made me relax a little bit.”
The win was Ryu’s fifth LPGA Tour victory, and her second of the year after the ANA Inspiration in April.
It also marks the first time a player has won multiple tournaments this season. The 15 previous tournaments had produced 15 different champions.
Yang shot a 64, while Jutanugarn – sister of world number one Ariya Jutanugarn – recorded a 66.
Stacy Lewis and Michelle Wie tied for fourth at 13 under after shooting a 69 and 64 respectively.
With such a hefty lead, Ryu was expected to close out the win, but it was reduced to just two shots at one point when she made bogey – her first of the week – on the par-3 11th. Yang then birdied the 12th to get within two.
But it didn’t last long as Yang hit bogeys on both the 13th and 14th, while Ryu picked up a shot on the par-4 12th to extend the gap back to five.
Defending champion Lydia Ko, who set the previous tournament best score of 17 under last year, could only finish tied 25th at 8-under par after a 68.
The ladies tour now heads into the second major of the year, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, which starts in Florida on Thursday.
Rory McIlroy back to winning ways; Tiger Woods back in contention – suddenly golf’s future looks a whole lot brighter.