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.
The pros at the Sony Open in Hawaii were sent scrambling for cover on Saturday after a ballistic missile alert was sent out by mistake.