So Yeon Ryu, a 21-year-old golfer from South Korea, joined the storied ranks of Korean U.S. Open champions today. She is the fifth Korean woman to win the open, following golf greats such as Eun-Hee Ji, Inbee Park and Se Ri Pak. In addition, she’s the fourth to win in the last seven years, firmly establishing Korea’s significant presence in the sporting world.
One of the major championships in the LPGA, the Open is acknowledged to be among the most important tournaments worldwide. Until today, Ryu had yet to claim an LPGA title: “I won six Korean LPGA tournaments, but no majors, but now I won the U.S. Women’s Open. I can’t believe it,” she told an interviewer.
The win aside, the day was a momentous occasion for Korea. The top two contenders were Ryu and Hee Kyung Seo, another prominent Korean golfer. In the crowd, there were masses of Korean fans, including one with quite a few LPGA titles of her own, Se Ri Pak. After the last stroke, fans rushed out on to the green to celebrate, dousing Ryu with champagne.
About the occasion, Pak said:
“I was walking three holes and looked back and said, ‘All I can say is I’m very proud — proud to be Korean, proud for them to be out there and playing their best.’ They’re the true champions. I’m very happy to see it.”
[Photo: John Leyba/The Denver Post]