Olympics motivates S. Korean LPGA stars

May 6, 2015
From top left going clockwise, Kim Hyo-joo, Park Inbee, Amy Yang and Ryu So-yeon. South Korea has four female golfers who are in the top-15 qualifying rankings for the 2018 Olympics.  (AP Photo)

From top left going clockwise, Kim Hyo-joo, Park Inbee, Amy Yang and Ryu So-yeon are four South Korean golfers who are in the top-15 rankings for rankings for the 2016 Olympics. (AP Photo)

IRVING, Texas (Yonhap) — Next year’s Summer Olympics greatly motivates South Korean LPGA Tour stars, the nation’s top-ranked player said Sunday.

Through 11 tournaments this season, five South Koreans have combined for seven victories. World No. 2 Park In-bee became the latest winner on Sunday at the Volunteers of America North Texas Shootout in Irving, Texas. This was Park’s second victory this year.

Asked why she felt the South Koreans have dominated the tour so far this year, Park said she and her compatriots are driven by the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

“I think the players are concentrating extra hard to qualify for next year’s Olympics,” she said. “You have to win a tournament or a major to move up in the Olympic rankings and qualify. I think the players are pushing each other.”

Golf will be competed at a Summer Games for the first time since 1904. A total of 60 players in the men’s and the women’s competitions will be in the field, and the qualification will be based on the Olympic Golf Rankings as of July 11, 2016.

The top 15-ranked players for each gender will qualify, with a maximum of four per each country.

The Olympic Golf Rankings are slightly different from the world rankings, in that the Olympic standings are calculated based on prize money from the ladies’ tours in the United States, South Korea, Europe, Japan, Australia and China.

Presently, South Korea is the only nation with four players inside the top 15. Park is the leader at No. 2, followed by Kim Hyo-joo at No. 4, Ryu So-yeon at No. 7 and Amy Yang at No. 10.

Kim, a rookie sensation with two victories already in 2015, has said her biggest objective this year is to move up in the rankings and put herself in a qualifying position for the Olympics.

“Rookies like Kim Sei-young and Kim Hyo-joo have driven the veterans to play better,” added Park, an LPGA member since 2007. “Having seen them play, we know we can’t just sit around and let them take over.”

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