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So Yeon Ryu Makes Incredible Philanthropic Gesture

By: | Mon 22 Jun 2020 | Comments

THERE were a couple of feel-good stories over the weekend that you may well have missed - Chris Kirk’s victory on the Korn Ferry Tour and So Yeon Ryu’s success in the Korean Women’s Open.

On the face it, neither may seem to be anything other than routine victories, but barely 12 months ago Kirk announced that he was planning to take time away from the PGA Tour as the time had come for him to address serious issues with alcoholism and depression. He made the announcement on the eve of his 34th birthday and it was quite clear that the American had reached a major crossroads in his life.

Most of his fellow players had no idea that Kirk was suffering and there was an outpouring or emotion and support for him. He returned later in the year and finished in a tie for 33rd place at the Mayakoba Classic. Five missed cuts then followed before Covid-19 shut the game down.

Kirk made the cut at the Charles Schwab Challenge in Texas but was never in contention. However, he was just happy to be back. He opted to miss Harbour Town and instead headed to the Korn Ferry Tour’s King & Bear Classic. And, lo and behold, he shot a final round of 67 to overcome a four-shot deficit to defeat Justin Lower by a shot.

“Taking that break and getting some help was really able to give me some perspective that this game is maybe not quite as important as we make it out to be,” Kirk said. “It’s amazing seeing a complete shift in my mentality as far as that’s concerned.” It was his first win since the Colonial in 2015. Fingers crossed that it is the first of many.

And Ryu? She won the Korean Women’s Open, clinching the trophy in her country’s national championship after a closing-round 72. The two-time major champion then pledged her entire winner’s cheque for $206,000 to Covid-19 relief funds. 

“I had thought of donating,” Ryu said. “Before the awards ceremony, I called my mom. I told her that I’m going to make the announcement so don’t get too surprised. She was just as happy I was. Since this tournament has a lot of meaning to me, I thought that I may be able to play better if I had a positive goal.”

Image Credit: Kevin Diss Photography

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