Ryu Hae-ran takes victory at SaintNine Masters 2022
Ryu Hae-ran took a one-stroke victory over KLPGA rookie Kwon Seo-yeon at the Nexen SaintNine Masters 2022 at Gaya Country Club in Gimhae, South Gyeongsang, on Sunday, carding an overall score of 16-under-par, 272.
Ryu had a bogeyless first and third round, bogeying just two holes throughout the match, the par-4 15th on the second day and the par-4 18th on the last day.
In the final round, the contention for the trophy came down to Ryu and Kwon. Kwon entered the final round in third place with 12-under-par, two strokes behind top position Ryu, looking for her first-ever KLPGA title.
Kwon started out the final round birdying the first par-4 and added two more birdies in the par-4 seventh and par-4 11th, but her bogeyless round on the last day was not enough to surpass the two-stroke deficit.
Kwon's runner-up finish on her third KLPGA tournament could line her up for this year's Rookie award if she continues to keep her form. Kwon played the second tier Dream Tour in 2020 and 2021. Last year, she won two Dream Tour events and had the second-biggest prize money on the Dream Tour to earn a seat in the KLPGA Tour this season. The top 20 players with the most prize money get to play in the KLPGA Tour in the following season.
Ryu also added three birdies in the first, seventh and 11th hole, the same three holes Kwon birdied on, keeping the two-stroke gap until the last hole where she slipped and bogied. Despite missing her par putt in the last hole, Ryu was still able to win her fifth KLPGA title.
"I didn't think that I would be nervous in the last hole, but I was extremely nervous and I missed my putt," said Ryu at a post-tournament interview.
"It was a downward putt, and I was too careful not to pass the hole after I made that mistake before. So, the ball stopped short."
This is Ryu's first win of the 2022 season and her fifth career title. Last November, Ryu took a wire-to-wire victory at the last tournament of the season, the SK Shieldus-SK Telecom Championship 2021 at Lavie Est Belle Golf & Resort in Chuncheon, Gangwon, to mark her fourth KLPGA title. Ryu debuted in 2019 and won her first KLPGA title at the Jeju Samdasoo Masters in August 2019, defending that title in 2020.
Two of her four titles came last season. Ryu won the Elcru-TV Chosun Pro Celebrity 2021 last September after a playoff against Choi Hye-jin. After the win, Ryu continued to play on good form, finishing in the top-10 in four out of the next six matches, then ended last season on a high note by winning the last event. It was the first time for Ryu to win two titles in a single season.
"This is my first time winning in front of an audience," said Ryu. "My win feels even better because I had an audience around for all 18 holes."
The KLPGA has been permitting spectators on the golf course this season, starting with last week's Mediheal-Hankook Ilbo Championship. The KLPGA has not had an audience since the 2020 season due to Covid-19, and an audience was allowed at the Gaya Country Club for the first time in three years. A total of 23,387 people showed up on the course, with almost half sticking around to join the golfers for the final round.
Spectators will also be permitted to the first major tournament of the season starting Thursday, the CreaS F&C The 44th KLPGA Championship, at Ildong Lakes Golf Club in Pocheon, Gyeonggi.
BY YUN SO-HYANG [firstname.lastname@example.org]