So Yeon Ryu pulled 1 shot ahead of Na Yeon Choi at the end of the 1st round of the Canadian Pacific Women's Open with a walkoff birdie that got her to -9. For the next 45 holes, it looked like Ryu's only competition would Annika Sorenstam's feat of -27 for 72 holes, as she made 16 birdies and only 1 bogey to move to -24 with 9 holes left to play. At that point she was 6-up on Choi, 7-up on Inbee Park, and 9-up on Azahara Munoz. The only question seemed to be whether Ryu would beat Annika's mark and whether Park would play the entire tournament bogey-free.
The answer to both questions, however, turned out to be no. Park's bogey-free run would end after 64 holes when she missed a makeable par save on the par-4 11th. And then NYC cut SYR's lead in half after Ryu bogeyed 10 and Choi birdied the 11th and the par-3 13th. And when NYC birdied the par-4 15th and SYR bogeyed it, they were right back on the 70th tee where they had last been on the 19th: 1 stroke apart. And when Ryu had to lay up on the par-5 16th and Choi had a chance to go for the green in 2, that single stroke seemed a very slim margin indeed. But when NYC pushed her approach into the right bunker and SYR stuck her wedge to about 8 feet, you could feel the tables start to turn. And when Choi couldn't get the sandie and Ryu hit a perfect putt to fight back to -23, you could almost hear the click. 2 pars later for each golfer and everyone on the course could hear it. Ryu had won for the 3rd time on the LPGA and 1st time since 2012.
The announcers made a big deal about both Ryu and Choi being Inbee Park's bridesmaids at her October 2014 wedding, so let me make the obligatory "no longer a bridesmaid" comment. The Park connection I'm more interested in, however, is the notion of a U.S. Women's Open jinx. Park lost the top spot in the Rolex Rankings after winning last year's USWO and didn't win again until the Manulife (where she also ended up at -23!), which is actually a mild form of the jinx. Paula Creamer, for instance, had to wait for her 10th career LPGA victory almost 4 years after winning the USWO at Oakmont. (Park herself had to wait about as long for her 2nd LPGA victory after winning the USWO for the 1st time in 2008). Admittedly, the comparison isn't exact, as both SYR and NYC have exactly 1 LPGA win since taking their own USWO titles in 2011 and 2012, respectively. So let's call it a delayed-reaction USWO jinx. In any case, it's over for So Yeon Ryu.
So congratulations to Ryu on a long-awaited and much-deserved victory. And congratulations to Kim Kaufman, who fired the low round of the day, a bogey-free 66 that included a 3-putt par on the 16th. She went -11 over her last 35 holes of bogey-free golf and hit every green but 9. And congratulations, as well, to Danielle Kang, who tied Kaufman for 5th at -15 and looked like she was having a total blast the entire week. Caroline Masson and Kristy McPherson, who tied NYC's 67 for the 2nd-lowest rounds of the day, also deserve much congratulations.
As happy as I am for Ryu and the gang, I'm just as sad for Ai Miyazato, who seemed to have turned a corner with her 2nd-round 67, but who tied Sue Kim for the high round of the day today and was +7 over her final 23 holes. The stats make it seem her putter let her down on moving day and she spent a lot of time in the rough during the final round. Hope she shakes it off quickly, as the Evian is her best chance to win her 1st LPGA major! I was hoping for better from Mina Harigae (-2), Jane Park (-2), Tiffany Joh (-1), and Ayako Uehara (+1) this week, as well. At least Harukyo Nomura (-8) and Chie Arimura (-6) had pretty solid weeks. Here's hoping they play well in Portland next week!