LPGA Rookie of the Year race update: Park v Yin v Korda

Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports /
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LPGA rookie
Sung Hyun Park. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports /

Sung Hyun Park has a 180 point lead over the competition in the 2017 Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year race and she’s set a performance pace that’s going to be nearly impossible to match.

The long-hitting – she’s ranked 3rd on the Tour in distance off the tee –  34-year old Korean is an Olympic gold medalist in archery (2004) who is now well on her way to conquering the world of women’s golf.

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Park – why do I keep thinking of her as “The Other Park” – turned golf pro in 2012 and worked her way through the KLPGA. By 2016 she’d earned enough money to qualify for Category 10 LPGA status for the 2017 season.

She came to her rookie year on the Tour with an impressive head start: 4 top 10 finishes as a non-member: Kia Classic (T4), ANA Inspiration (T6), U.S. Women’s Open (T3 – her first USGA appearance), and The Evian (T2).

There’s a reason Sung Hyun Park doesn’t play like an ordinary rookie. When she teed it up in January she had already recorded 12 rounds at LPGA events in the 60s, for of them at the 2016 Evian Championship. With 7 KLPGA wins on her resume, “The Other Park” was already a proven closer.

Park has started at 8 Tour events this season and played the weekend 8 times.  She didn’t finish outside the top 25 for 7 consecutive events and she’s recorded 3 top 5 finishes – so far. The season is young. It’s only a matter of time before Park hoists a trophy, and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see her finish her rookie year as a multiple winner.

Next: ShopRite LPGA Classic fantasy picks

The next stop of the LPGA schedule is Galloway, NJ for the ShopRite LPGA Classic. Anna Nordqvist is the defending champion. All the standout LPGA rookies except Angel Yin are in the field.