Updated: Jan, 2018

SUNG HYUN PARK

The Facts

Birthday: September 21, 1993
Rookie Year: 2017
Birthplace: South Korea
LPGA Wins: 2
Best LPGA Major Finish: Win (2017 US Women's Open)
Rookie of the Year Finish: Won!
Best Score: 62 (twice)
Best Scoring Average: 69.25 (2017)
Best Season Money Total: $2,335,883 (2017)
Best Season Money List Position:
1st (2017)
Most Top Tens/Season: 11 (2017)
Post Season Awards: Rookie of the Year (2017), Player of the Year (2017)

Height: 5' 8"
2018 LPGA Status: Category 1
Nicknames: Namdalla ('She's Different')
Sponsors: Hana Bank, TaylorMade, Beanpole Golf
How's her English?: Learning
Hobbies: Unknown
Road to the LPGA: Earned enough cash in 2016 to qualify for LPGA

Capsule Bio

Sung Hyun Park is a long hitting golfer on the Korean tour who has rapidly risen to be perhaps the best player on that tour by 2016.

She turned pro in 2012 and played the minor league tours in 2013, with occasional appearances on the KLPGA. Her rookie year was 2014, but she was relatively undistinguished that year, finishing 34th on the money list with three top tens and a bunch of missed cuts.

Galleries

Seoul Sisters Pix

Park came into her own in 2015. After a slow start, she contended seriously for the first time at the Lotte Cantata Open in June, where she lost to Jung Min Lee. Park didn't take long to recover from that defeat. A few weeks later at the Korean Women's Open, Park won there despite coughing up a five shot lead. Among those who finished second was Lee, the very player who had beaten her a few weeks before.

Park was inconsistent the next few months, but she hit her stride in September, winning twice more and collecting several more great finishes besides. She wound up second on the year ending money list with 736 million won earned.

Park also made an impression in her first LPGA event, the 2015 KEB Hana Bank. Playing with LPGA bomber Lexi Thompson, she held her own distance-wise off the tee, shooting an epic 62 in the first round. She wound up tied for second behind Thoimpson in the end.

Park played in several team events at the end of 2015. At the ING Champions, a team event pitting KLPGA and LPGA stars against one another, Park matched up with top Korean star Inbee Park in the singles match. She slaughtered the Hall of Famer 5 & 3. A few weeks later, she joined the KLPGA team at the Kowa Queens, where again she played well. She halved her two team matches and won her singles match against Japanese captain Momoko Ueda 5 & 4.

Park wasted little time getting back to business in the 2016 season. She won her first outing at the Hyundai China Ladies Open, beating both In Gee Chun and defending champion Hyo Joo Kim in the process. When she next played on the KLPGA tour in April, at the Samchully Together Open, she won again, taking over the lead on the money list. She won the next event she played as well.

Meanwhile, Park also played in three LPGA events early in 2016, and was a factor in all three of them. She notched a 13th at the first one; contended at the second, the Kia Classic, before finishing fourth; then finished tied for 6th in her first ever Major, the ANA Inspiration.

After returning to Korea, it did not take her too long to get back on the winning track. She won the Doosan Match Play, the only match play championship on the KLPGA. She managed a runner-up at the Korean Women's Open before claiming her fifth and sixth wins back to back in August. Just two weeks after that, she claimed her 7th win of 2016 at the Hanwha. This win also moved her above a billion won earned for the season.

Only Jiyai Shin had ever won more than 7 wins in a season, and Park was gunning to top her total of 9 wins, which she had achieved in 2007. Park still had a lot of chances left to win, but amazingly, she would not win again in 2016. Nonetheless, it was still an astounding season for her. She made 1,333,090,667 won, the all time record for most money earned in a single season on tour. Even more incredible was her 69.64 scoring average, which is easily the best scoring average of the past ten years, maybe ever. She was so dominant in that category that she topped #2 Jin Young Ko by more than 3/4 of a stroke. Amazingly, she finished second to Ko in the Player of the Year rankings (by a single point), but that was probably because she did not win a Major (Ko won one).

Park also played several more LPGA Majors in 2016, and made her mark in two of them. At the US Women's Open in July, she was the 36 hole leader, and when world #1 Lydia Ko faltered on Sunday, Park moved into position to win. She reached the 18th hole just a stroke out of the lead, and it was a par 5. Her length had been astounding the galleries all week, so reaching the hole in two should have been child's play. But after a perfect drive, she pulled her approach into the water, and that was that: she finished tied for third.

After a tie for 50th at the Women's British Open, Park started the year's final Major, the Evian, with a sizzling 63, which tied her for the lead. She wound up in an epic battle all week with the 2015 KLPGA Player of the Year, In Gee Chun, who was an LPGA rookie. Park tried her best, but Chun was too strong, and Park wound up tied for 2nd with Korean star So Yeon Ryu. Her best ever Major finish, but another agonizingly close call.

Park did not win an LPGA event in 2016, but the amount of money she earned was high enough that she earned a card anyway: there is a rule on the LPGA that if a nonmember earns enough in a season so that she would have been in the top 40 on the money list, she gets a card. Park did that easily. So she was a rookie on the tour in 2017.

Park's rookie year turned out to be every bit as amazing as people were expecting it to be. She did not miss a cut all season, and quickly seized control of the Rookie of the Year race. She wound up easily crushing her competition there. It took her a little while to get her first win, but she made a third place finish in her first start as a tour member, the HSBC Champions. She had several more top fives in the next few months, including a runner-up tie at the Volvik.

Finally, everything came together for her at the US Women's Open. She had something to prove after barely missing the playoff for the title the previous year. In 2017, she put herself into the hunt, then hung around the top on the back nine. The only player who stood in her way was 17-year-old prodigy Hye Jin Choi, but when Choi dumped her tee shot into the water on 16, Park moved ahead of her and claimed the two-shot win.

A month later, Park got her second win, completing the double of North American national championships by grabbing the Canadian Women's Open. Park had several more top fives after that, and had a real chance to win in Korea at the KEB Hana Bank, but ended up second to KLPGA star Jin Young Ko.

Coming into the final tournaments of the year, Park had a chance to win every major award on tour. She already had clinched the Rookie of the Year, and was close to getting Player of the Year. She was leading the money list, and was second in scoring average. She also had briefly been the #1 golfer in the world before falling back.

She wound up second to Lexi Thompson in scoring average with a scintillating 69.25 average. She did finish on top of the money list, earning $2.3 million. She thus became only the second Korean golfer after Inbee Park (third if you count Lydia Ko) to break $2 million in a season. Meanwhile, had she finished the final event one stroke better, she would have won the Player of the Year outright, and possibly also returned to the top spot in the world ranking. But, by finishing 6th, she exactly tied So Yeon Ryu for Player of the Year. It was the first time in tour history that there was a tie in this category. Park became the first woman since Nancy Lopez in the late seventies to win Rookie and Player of the Year in the same season.

Park finished the season at #2 in the world, and one can only imagine what she might accomplish next!

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