Korean named Rookie of the Year on the LPGAMIAMI - South Korean Shin Ji-yai, a three-times winner on the LPGA Tour this season, was named the U.S. circuit’s Rookie of the Year for 2009 on Monday.
Shin, 21, also leads the race for the Player of the Year award with just three events remaining and could become the first player to complete the rare double since Nancy Lopez in 1978.
“In the beginning of this year, my goal was to win the Rookie of the Year and now I did that,” Shin said in a statement released by the LPGA. “I’m very happy.
“Now I have [a] chance for the Rolex Player of the Year too, so I’m really excited about it. I have enjoyed my rookie year on the LPGA Tour very much.”
Shin became the third player from South Korea to win the women’s British Open with a three-shot triumph at Sunningdale, England last year.
She had already broken virtually every record on the Korean Tour with 10 wins in 19 starts in 2007.
Shin finished the season with a number eight ranking in the world.
She followed up on her impressive 2007 season with several wins at LPGA events in 2008.
As a non-member of the LPGA Tour last season, she played in 10 events and captured three titles: Women’s British Open, Mizuno Classic and ADT Championship.
She is the first non-member to win three LPGA events in a season.
In her debut season on the LPGA Tour, she has clinched the title of HSBC Women’s Champions, the Wegmans LPGA and the Arkansas Championship along with nearly $1.7 million in earnings.
Shin piled up 1,406 points in the Tour’s rookie race to eliminate her closest challengers Michelle Wie (764 points) and McDonald’s LPGA Champion Anna Nordqvist (722).
The bespectacled Korean is defending her title at the LPGA Tour’s Mizuno Classic this week in an event in Japan. Reuters