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Rookie Hae Ran Ryu of South Korea wins in Arkansas for her first LPGA Tour title

ROGERS, Ark. (AP) — Hae Ran Ryu completed a wire-to-wire run to her first LPGA Tour title, a three-shot victory Sunday at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.

The 22-year-old rookie from South Korea had four birdies and an eagle in her last nine holes at Pinnacle Country Club to shoot a 5-under 66 and finish at 19-under 194 in the 54-hole event. Ryu, the LPGA Q-Series medalist last year, earned $345,000 and is projected to climb into the top 10 in the Race to CME Globe.

“I’m so happy because always I think winning the first of the year, but it’s first time I’m playing in Arkansas,” Ryu said. “It’s wonderful course. I’m pretty good player, so, so happy.”

Linnea Strom closed with a 64 to finish second at 16 under.

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After playing without a bogey while shooting 64s in each of the first two rounds, Ryu dropped two shots to lose her lead with bogeys on Nos. 2 and 5. After making the turn at 1 over for her round, Ryu had birdies on Nos. 10 and 12, then eagled the par-5 14th to move back ahead at 17 under.

She added birdies at 16 and 18 in a back-nine 29. Ryu became the fifth rookie to win this year, and the first to do it while leading after every round since Patty Tavatanakit at the 2021 Chevron Championship.

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“Last three holes I tried to not see the scoreboard,” Ryu said. “Just focus on my play, and I made two more birdies. Yeah, it’s more confidence.”

Four players tied for third at 15 under: South Koreans Jenny Shin (67) and Sei Young Kim (66), Japan’s Yuna Nishimura (68) and Bianca Pagdanganan of the Philippines (64).

Lexi Thompson, an 11-time winner who is winless since 2019, had a share of the lead after making four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 7 through 12, but managed only one more birdie and finished in a tie for eighth.

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AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf