Category - Major Events
KPMG Women's PGA Champion Ruoning Yin Reflects on a 'Dream Come True' Season
By Adam Stanley
Ruoning Yin woke up the day after capturing the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship with such sore arms. Yes, she had a tremendous Sunday where she topped Yuka Saso by just one shot to capture her maiden major – her second LPGA Tour title of the season – and it was a long week at a difficult golf course. But the pain that was specific to her biceps and shoulders was very curious.
Until she remembered a photographer’s request the night prior.
“When I lifted the trophy at the ceremony I was shocked. It was shocking how heavy it was,” Yin recalls with a laugh. “The photographer asked me to hold it up higher and I was like, ‘Dude, hurry up’ and when I woke up the next morning my arms were so sore. I was really wondering what I did. But it was the trophy.”
Sore shoulders were a small sacrifice to make for Yin as she celebrated her first major win. She quietly climbed the board at Baltusrol Golf Club before she birdied three of her final six holes in the final round to become an un-ignorable presence on top.
It was her second win of the season after her triumph at the DIO Implant LA Open.
Yin notched nine top-10 finishes this season on the LPGA Tour including a run of three top-3s in a row at the CPKC Women’s Open, Portland Classic, and Kroger Queen City Championship. That stretch run through August and into September saw the 20-year-old reach No. 1 in the world rankings for the first time.
“It was a dream come true,” Yin says of her season. “The only thing I can think about right now is that I started to play golf at 10."
"Once I started, everyone asked me what kind of player I wanted to be. My answer was always world No. 1. It’s really a dream come true."
At this past weekend's CME Group Tour Championship – the LPGA Tour’s season finale – Yin opened with a sizzling 9-under 63 to put herself in the mix for a final title. She was overtaken by Amy Yang (who fired a tournament scoring-record 27-under 261) but still ended her year on a high note.
Yin's awesome body-of-work over 2023 was made even more impressive considering where she was a year ago. Yin missed nine of 16 cuts and had a wrist injury. She was hitting the ball poorly, and because she was hitting it so bad, she kept practicing and practicing – and ended up hurting herself.
“That was my lowest spot. From the driving range […] I’m calling my mom (telling her) ‘I don’t want to play golf anymore,’ Yin admits. “My mom told me, ‘If you cannot swing just don't swing. Just do your putting drills, practice putting and chipping you'll be fine. No matter what, we still love you.’
“At one point I just think about quitting, but I think this is all experience. It's just because I went through those downs and that's what makes me right here.”
Yin said her triumph at Baltusrol will always be one of her top memories. The course, she says, was one of the best she’s ever played. She was honored to be able to join major champions like Jack Nicklaus as winners on the storied New Jersey layout.
Yin has one more event left in 2023, teeing it up alongside three-time PGA Tour winner Nick Taylor at the Grant Thornton Invitational in December as the PGA TOUR and LPGA Tour are hosting a co-sanctioned event with both men and women. She’s looking forward to that. She’s also looking forward to a break.
Her arms may have been sore after a heavy trophy tilt, but her heart is full. Winning the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship meant so much to Yin – the biggest win in the biggest year of her life.
“It’s definitely special,” Yin says. “Even thinking about it right now I have goosebumps.”