Posted May. 04, 2010 10:54,
Shin Ji-yai is always smiling. The 22-year-old golfer is nicknamed Smiling Angel.
She burst into tears, however, after losing the Player of the Year award in the final round of the LPGA Tour Championship on Nov. 24 last year. Shin had led Lorena Ochoa of Mexico by eight points just before the championship, but finished tied for eighth and lost the award by one point to Ochoa.
Five months later, Shin won the CyberAgent Ladies Golf Tournament of the Japanese LPGA Tour Sunday and has risen to the top of the rankings after Ochoa, who had stayed number one for more than three years, announced her retirement last month.
Ochoa played her final tournament at the LPGA Tres Marias Championship Monday in Morelia, Mexico. Up until the championship, Ochoa ranked first with an average 9.11 points, with Shin ranking second with 8.76 points.
According to foreign media reports, Ochoa could have retired at No. 1 had she placed fourth or higher. The Mexican, however, finished sixth, giving Shin the top spot.
While briefly visiting Korea to become a goodwill ambassador of Gwangju Monday, Shin said, I feel numb. Being the world No. 1 means Im standing ahead of countless great players. I know how big a meaning this holds, and I can hardly feel whether this is real.
The No. 1 ranking can change at anytime, she said. Rather than being passive in my effort to keep the top position, I will use this mental burden of world No. 1 as a source of energy to move forward.