South Korean golf sensation Park Sung-hyun has become the first ever LPGA Tour rookie to top the world rankings.
The 24-year-old has enjoyed a stellar debut season on the elite women’s golf circuit, winning July’s US Open at Trump National Golf Club and making the cut at every event she’s entered.
She is the fourth South Korean woman to hold the world No. 1 spot, following in the footsteps of compatriots Ryu So-yeon, Inbee Park and Jiyai Shin.
“It is a great honor to me and my family,” Park told LPGA.com. “I was very surprised and amazed by what I’ve achieved.”
South Korean women have dominated the LPGA Tour in recent years, winning 15 of the past 29 major tournaments.
Ten of the top 20 players in the official Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings are South Korean as it stands — and the number is only increasing.
According to PGA coach Brian Mogg, a fiercely competitive society married with an intrinsic dedication to getting better has fostered a new generation of women that are revolutionizing the game.
“Koreans are the most disciplined people on earth,” Mogg, who runs a golf academy in Seoul, told CNN Sport last year.
“You tell them to do something but they don’t just do it, they do it to the nth degree, and they do it hard and passionate. When you put hard work and discipline together you’re going to create some success.”
Park has won $2,161,005 in prize money since becoming a full-time LPGA member at the start of the 2017 season, clinching the Rookie of the Year award in October with five events remaining on the calendar.
No female player has ever reached $1 million (four months, 14 days) or $2 million (seven months, 13 days) in career earnings faster in the history of the game.
But, speaking from China ahead of the Blue Bay LPGA on Hainan Island, Park insisted there’s no chance she’ll let such success get to her head.
“There won’t be any changes because of the ranking,” said Park, known as “Dak Gong” (literally translated as “Shut Up and Attack”) back home for her relentless focus on the course.
“I believe my future play is more important than the fact that I moved up in the ranking.”
With the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship taking place later this month, she could now join American legend Nancy Lopez as the only players in LPGA history to win Player and Rookie of the Year in the same season.