BEIJING: South Korean sensation Park Sung-Hyun became the first LPGA Tour rookie to be crowned world number one on Tuesday after a season in which she also won her first major.
The 24-year-old, who knocked countrywoman Ryu So-Yeon off the top spot, is the fourth South Korean world number one since the rankings were introduced in 2006, joining Shin Ji-Yai, Park In-Bee and Ryu.
“I was very surprised and amazed by what I’ve achieved,” Park told LPGA.com in Hainan Island, where she will play in this week’s Blue Bay LPGA tournament.
“This is all too sudden for me, and it hasn’t hit me yet,” Park added. “I think this is an honour for my whole family.”
Park reaches number one exactly a year after she held a press conference in Korea to announce she would take up membership on the LPGA Tour, after a season in which she won seven times on the Korean LPGA Tour, contended in three major championships and had risen to world number 10.
Her incredible form carried through to the LPGA Tour this year with two wins to date including a first major at the US Women’s Open, nine top-10 finishes and top-20 finishes at three other majors.
Not only that, the super-consistent Park has never missed a cut in her 29 career LPGA Tour starts.
She had romped away with the LPGA’s Rookie of the Year honours long before this season ended and with two tournaments to go, she is ranked second in the Player of the Year standings.
Only Ryu, who is sitting out this week, is ahead of Park who is seeking to become just the second player in history after Nancy Lopez in 1978 to earn both rookie and player of the season honours in the same year.
Park had originally declared she wanted to become number one within three years of moving full-time to the LPGA Tour.
“I’ve accomplished my goal a lot faster than I’d planned, and it does put some pressure on my shoulders,” Park said.
“But I am also determined to keep trying harder and harder. I think I was able to get this far this fast because I continued to push myself without settling for less.”