Bienvenue! My name is Jamie and I like golf. I grew up playing tennis in eastern Massachusetts, but fell in love with the game after watching Se Ri Pak defeat Jenny Chausiriporn at the 1998 U.S. Womens Open. I studied Hospitality & Tourism Management (with a focus on Event, Tourism, and Convention Management) at the Isenberg School of Management, University of Massachusetts Amherst. Tennis is my first love, but golf is a very close second. I believe style should equal substance, and the latter is nothing without the former.
Incoming rookie & 2011 U.S. Women’s Open So Yeon Ryu lit up the course on the Gold Coast shooting a 61 to take a 4 shot lead over Christel Boeljon. As Ryu finishes her preparations here for the first LPGA event as a tour member next week my thoughts are immediately turned to the potentially epic Rookie of the Year showdown between So Yeon & Alexis Thompson.
Both are joining the LPGA this year after posting non-member wins in 2011, with Thompson becoming the youngest winner ever on the LPGA when she cruised to victory at the Navistar LPGA Classic. While Thompson’s entrance in the world’s elite has been well documented, Ryu, who’ll be 22 later this year, started her career in Korea with a bang very similarly to her new rival.
Ryu was a decorated amateur in Asia earning a gold medal at the 2006 Winter Asian Games (an Asian equivalent of the Olympic Games), and aiding Korea in team wins at the same games and the 2007 Queen Sirikit Cup, which pits top amateurs from Asia and the Pacific. At the end of the year she turned pro at the age of 17.
Turning pro before 18 is far more common in Korea, but it still doesn’t maker Ryu’s win at the KLPGA’s 2008 Sports Seoul Open any less impressive. Did I mention it was her first event on tour?
Not to count out the other talented rookies in the 2012 class it would be shocking if the contest did not come down to these two talented ladies. Can Lexi continue to live up to the hype and pressure and continue to thrive in the LPGA microscope? Will Ryu cope with a year abroad adjusting to the American tour? Coming over for a three week span is one thing, but spending an entire season is entirely another.
Ryu, although a consistent top performer on the KLPGA, has never taken home any end of the year awards. In 2008, despite winning the first tournament she entered on the KLPGA, she still wound up #2 in their Rookie of the Year race. In 2009 despite at one point winning 3-events in a row she only finished second on the money list and player of the races to Hee Kyung Seo (the 2011 LPGA Rookie of the Year and runner-up to Ryu at the U.S. Open). Ryu only managed one win in 2010, but still finished 4th on the money list. Last year she lead the KLPGA money list for most of the 2011, but couldn’t find it at the end of the season and finished 3rd.
Despite her top 4 finishes or better, Ryu hasn’t shown that she can have it all for the entire year. Thompson’s stamina is untested as well as 2012 will mark her first full year on a professional tour. So, who has the edge?
I don’t have an answer, but I’ll grab the popcorn as it’ll be a great show to watch.
*Lexi Thompson shot a 2-under 70 in the second round and finds herself 10 strokes behind Ryu.