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Rookie Hae Ran Ryu wins wire-to-wire at NW Arkansas

South Korean Hae Ran Ryu shot a 5-under 66 to complete a wire-to-wire win at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship on Sunday in Rogers, Ark.

Ryu finished the week at Pinnacle Country Club 19-under 194, three shots better than Sweden’s Linnea Strom, who had a final-round 64. Tied for third at 15 under were Bianca Pagdanganan of the Philippines (64 on Sunday), Yuna Nishimura of Japan (68) and South Korea’s Sei Young Kim (66) and Jenny Shin (67).

Ryu had won five times on the LPGA of Korea, but Sunday marked the 22-year-old tour rookie’s first LPGA title.

“Before the season, I wanted to get Rookie of the Year,” Ryu told the Golf Channel broadcast. “Now … I’m a winner on the LPGA Tour and I want to get Rookie of the Year, and so now it’s so meaningful.”

After shooting consecutive rounds of 64 to build a two-stroke lead entering the final round, Ryu had a birdie and two bogeys in her first five holes on Sunday.

She steadied herself with four straight pars before birdieing Nos. 10 and 12 to move into a tie for the lead. The big move came at the par-5 14th, when Ryu nearly holed her second shot and had just 3 feet for eagle.

“First nine hole, I felt so bad,” said Ryu, who added birdies at Nos. 16 and 18. “… But after the ninth hole, I focus (on) my iron distance and I tried more anchoring my swing, and I made so many birdie.”

Strom tallied five birdies, one eagle and no bogeys to card her best score of the week and charge up the leaderboard. Her second-place finish is the best result of her LPGA career.

“I tried not to look at (the leaderboard), but I happened to see — when we were walking from 14 to 15, I happened to see that 14 under was in a good position at that time,” Strom said.

“But then I know there is a few good birdie holes coming in with the tee moved up on 14 and downwind on 18, so I think I just tried to not focus on it and just try to make as many birdies as I could and see what happens.”

Hannah Green of Australia (69) placed seventh at 14 under. Yealimi Noh (66) and Lexi Thompson (66) tied for eighth at 13 under.

–Field Level Media

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