So Yeon Ryu knew the routine well over the last two years. The last putt goes in, the champion celebrates in their own unique way, and their friends rush on the green, showering the champion with champagne. She’d rushed the green frequently over the last two years for her close friend Inbee Park, but she wanted that feeling for herself, the one only the golfer drenched in champagne with the cameras flashing at them can feel. She had it twice in her career, but the last one was two years ago. 27 top-10s since had left her frustrated and wondering when her next breakthrough was.
It came Sunday, finishing what she started Thursday when she fired a course record 63 to kick things off, leading wire to wire here in Canada with a 23-under-par 72-hole total.
“I’ve been waiting so long for the champagne,” Ryu said. “I was ready to get champagne. I put champagne on Inbee maybe more than five times, but finally she gave it to me. So it feels great.”
Wednesday night before the first round, the sushi restaurant doors down from the hotel had three visitors – So Yeon Ryu, Na Yeon Choi, and Inbee Park. The trio occupied the top three spots on the final leaderboard Sunday.
“After I signed my card, Na Yeon asked me, why don’t we go to have dinner every Wednesday night,” Ryu said with a laugh. “So I think that’s a good tradition, so I think we’re going to stick with that.”
Choi nearly caught her though after Ryu made the turn with a six-shot lead Sunday. By the 15th hole, that lead was down to one thanks to a couple of bogeys by Ryu and some spectacular golf by Na Yeon Choi chasing. Ultimately, Ryu – who had chased her third career victory for over two years – broke through after 27 top-10s since her last win, making a birdie on the 16th hole to finally put Choi away.
“It could sound like cocky, but after I made a birdie at the 9th hole I was sure I could win. But actually, you know what, Na Yeon almost chased me down, so I was pretty nervous at that moment,” Ryu said.
Ryu’s 23-under-par total ties the best score in relation to par on the LPGA Tour this season – the other coming in Canada as well with Inbee Park’s 23-under total down the road in Waterloo at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic. And after a front-nine 32 pushed her to 24-under for the tournament, Annika Sorenstam’s 27-under-par LPGA Tour record looked like it could fall.
Choi left admittedly disappointed that her career-best four-day total of 21-under turned out to not be good enough. Still, she was thrilled to see her friend breakthrough and thinks it could be a sign of things to come for herself.
“A lot of people talk about me and So Yeon can’t win, it’s been a long time, but somebody has to do it first, and then maybe next time I can have it,” Choi said.
Azahara Munoz posted her second consecutive fourth place finish at 17-under-par. Kim Kaufman and Danielle Kang finished in a tie for fifth at 15-under-par.
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