Posted by: happyfan08 | January 8, 2018

2017 SeoulSisters Awards (5 of 7): Biggest Diss, Happiest News, Hot Streak

Biggest Diss

And the ‘Winner’ Is: So Yeon Ryu treated poorly after her ANA win

The poor treatment of So Yeon Ryu after her win at the 2017 ANA Inspiration was one of the most uncalled-for things I saw in golf last year.

As mentioned in Biggest Controversy, Lexi Thompson had received a four-shot penalty due to her flagrant breaking of a rule during the third round of the championship. So Yeon Ryu managed to force a playoff, which she won in one hole.

Fans of Thompson wouldn’t let it go. They posted many nasty messages to So Yeon Ryu on twitter and Instagram. It got so bad that Ryu eventually stopped allowing comments on her Instagram feed. The messages basically broke down to two categories: criticism that she should celebrate her win when it came at the expense of Thompson, and anger that she didn’t do the ‘right thing’ by throwing the tournament to allow Thompson to win.

Whether you believe Thompson was wronged or not, there is no earthly reason to believe that Ryu is at fault. Ryu is known as one of the sweetest women on tour; even the Commissioner of the LPGA has said that his job would be the easiest on Earth if he had 150 women on tour just like So Yeon. Like many of the women on the LPGA, she has worked tirelessly on her game. But as talented as she is, she has frequently come up just short of the big wins that she probably should have had. Finally, at the ANA, she put everything together in a run of fantastic golf that culminated in her second Major win – and she is supposed to feel bad about that? She is not supposed to jump into the water to celebrate like every other champion?  And she is supposed to sacrifice her celebration for a rules violation she had nothing to do with?

So Yeon made it clear that she felt badly for Thompson and what had happened. But in no imaginable way is it Ryu’s fault either that Thompson broke the rules or that she was caught and punished. Lexi should have taken the entire blame herself for what happened and not tried so hard to act like a helpless victim. Yes, she did credit Ryu for playing well right afterwards and overtly said that what happened wasn’t So Yeon’s fault, but by positioning herself as a victim of a rip off at the same time, she inevitably invited the backlash by some of her less stable ‘fans’ against those who were ‘ripping her off’, which she should have realized would unfairly include Ryu.

These same fans, and even some of the media, got even worse. Some opined that Ryu should have hit her second shot into the water to throw the match, or should have handed the trophy to Thompson rather than take it herself. If she had done that, she would have lost me as a fan. It’s literally insane to suggest doing that! Women’s golf has enough challenges getting treated with respect by the public and media. If a player were to purposely tank, it would totally delegitimize the sport, perhaps irreparably. And why just pick on Ryu and not the several other players who might have won and still tried as hard as they could, including Suzann Pettersen? Lastly, imagine for a minute that the old rules had applied and Thompson had been DQed. Should all the other players have resigned in order to make sure she somehow won the trophy? Yeah, it’s a completely idiotic rant, made worse because it targeted a great, incredibly sweet person with bilious nonsense.

There were even lunatics who were implying that a Korean gambler had done this to ‘fix’ the match, totally ignoring the fact that there were several non-Koreans in contention after Thompson’s penalty that could have easily won. That argument was crazy on a new and sad level.  There was zero evidence of this being the case, by the way.

These same fans kept it up much of the year. I was still seeing some of them razzing Ryu on Twitter after she won the Player of the Year award, nearly nine months after the ANA.

Make no mistake about what I am saying: So Yeon Ryu won the ANA fair and square. She won according to the rules. She did not break any rules, nor did she have anything to do with reporting the violation. She deserved the trophy, the #1 ranking that came soon after, and her eventual Player of the Year award. And she handled herself in the face of all the negativity with her usual class and strength.

Other Nominees:

In Gee Chun Sponsorless in 2017

It was strange to see. Look at all the Korean golfers on the LPGA, the JLPGA, the KLPGA. Any of the stars on any of those tours. They come in many shapes and sizes, but they have one thing in common. Almost every one of them has a main title sponsor on the front of her cap.

The one glaring exception in 2017 was In Gee Chun, who also happens to be one of the most popular of all the Korean golfers. Her deal with Hite Beer ended at the beginning of the season, and she spent the rest of the year without a main sponsor. She did have several other secondary sponsors, but it seems she kept hoping to sign a blockbuster deal for the top sponsor that never happened, at least not in 2017. It seemed weird to see her with that blank expanse.

Edit: As we were going to press, In Gee Chun at last signed a main sponsorship deal.  Her new primary sponsor is KB Financial Group, the same company who sponsors Inbee Park. You had to figure that she would not go into 2018 without a sponsor!

Happiest News

And the Winner Is: In Kyung Kim at last wins a Major

In all the history of the Korean stars in women’s golf, there is probably no more infamous moment than what happened in 2012 at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. It had been a brutal final round. Hee Kyung Seo, the previous year’s Rookie of the Year, seemed to have the title locked up, but made several bogies in a row to cost herself the crown. At that moment, In Kyung Kim, who had won three events in the past four years but was winless since late 2010, made her move. After a great late birdie, she had the lead going into the final hole. She reached the green in three and narrowly missed a birdie try. She had just a foot left to capture her first Major, and… we all know what happened next. She missed the putt, and ever since, she has had to live with the constant comments and questions about it.

She would not win another LPGA tournament until late in 2016. But in 2017, she was on a roll. She won twice in the summer, and headed into the Ricoh Women’s Open at Kingsbarns as one of the players to watch. After a scintillating third round, she sat atop the leader board with a six shot lead with 18 holes to play.

It would not be easy, but Kim hung in there, making par after par to stave off powerful challenges from multiple players. In the end, she sealed the deal with an epic 3-wood approach on the tough 17th hole. At long last, after five and a half years of living with the questions, Kim made the final par to grab her first career Major. Sweet!

Other Nominees:

Jin Young Ko coming to the LPGA in 2018

Jin Young Ko started the 2017 KLPGA campaign slowly. She would not win her first event of the year until August, and had to watch several other players steal the spotlight that many thought would be hers.

Ko made up for all that by staring down two of the best Korean golfers, In Gee Chun and Sung Hyun Park, to win the 2018 KEB Hana Bank Championship. In so doing, she earned her LPGA tour card if she wanted it, but it was not clear if she would take it.

After keeping her fans guessing for weeks, Ko played at the CME Tour Championship in Naples, Florida. There she confirmed that she would in fact be joining the LPGA tour in 2018. Will she be able to follow Chun and Park and claim the Rookie of the Year award? It will be great to cheer her on as she tries!

Best Hot Streak

And the Winner Is: Ji Hyun

Wait, the winner is Ji Hyun? What does that mean?

On the KLPGA in 2017, there occurred one of the oddest win streaks in the history of the tour. Week after week early in the season, players named Ji Hyun kept winning trophies. There had been win streaks by individual players before, but never had there been so many tournaments in a row won by different players with the same first name.

The run started in late May, when a little known KLPGA golfer named Ji Hyun Lee stunned the tour by claiming her first career win at the E1 Charity Open. The following week, at the Lotte Cantata, it was Ji Hyun Kim 2 who won. This started a mini-streak of three wins in a row by two different women with the *exact same name*. Ji Hyun Kim 1 triumphed the following week at the S-OIL, then claimed her first Major victory at the Korea Women’s Open. Finally, at the BC Card, it was the turn of a fourth Ji Hyun to shine: Ji Hyun Oh claimed the win there.

The streak came to an end when amateur superstar Hye Jin Choi claimed her first win, bringing the solid month of non-stop wins by Ji Hyuns to a close.

Other Nominees:

So Yeon Ryu at the beginning of season

See Best Start to the Season for more details!

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