South Korean star S.H. Park eyes LPGA ROY


It should come as no surprise that another South Korean is a massive favorite to win the LPGA Rookie of the Year Award this season.

Sung Hyun Park is expected to become the next LPGA star from the Korean wave.

Park is looking to become the fourth South Korean born player in a row to win the LPGA Rookie of the Year Award, following up In Gee Chun (2016), Sei Young Kim (2015) and Lydia Ko (2014). Park’s aiming to become the sixth Korean born player in the last seven years to win the honor.

Park, 23, isn’t playing the LPGA season opener at the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic on Paradise Island this week, but she’s the most accomplished rookie among the 37 joining the tour this year.

Last season, Park dominated the Korean LPGA Tour as its Player of the Year, winning seven times. She is No. 10 in this week’s Rolex Women’s World Rankings, but ...

“When I was playing on the KLPGA, one of my goals was to win Rookie of the Year,” Park told through a translator. “Ultimately, I wasn’t able to ... I would like to make the dream of receiving the rookie award, so it would be very meaningful if I could win the Rookie of the Year Award on the LPGA.”

Q Baek beat out Park for top KLPGA rookie honors in 2014.

Park came close to winning a major as non-member of the LPGA last season. She was in contention to win at the U.S. Women’s Open at CordeValle before hooking her approach at the last hole into the water. In seven LPGA starts as a non-member, Park impressed, earning $682,825, the equivalent of 22nd on the LPGA money list. That earned her LPGA membership this year in Category 10 (non-member top 40 earnings).

“My goal is to have a first win as an LPGA rookie this year,” Park said.

In her best American starts last year, Park tied for third at the U.S. Women’s Open, tied for sixth at the ANA Inspiration and tied for fourth at the Kia Classic. She’s a long-hitting power player who will rank among the longest drivers in the LPGA ranks.

Park’s strongest challengers for Rookie of the Year will include Sweden’s Madelene Sagstrom, a three-time winner of the Symetra Tour last year; England Solheim Cup veteran Mel Reid; Japanese teen phenom Nasa Hataoka; India’s Olympic standout Aditi Ashok, who won twice on the Ladies European Tour last season; and Iceland’s Olafia Kristinsdottir. Park is hoping to make her first LPGA start as a member at the Honda Thailand next month.