So Yeon Ryu Is Ready to Defend at the Marathon LPGA Classic

Fred AltvaterContributor IIJuly 17, 2013

So Yeon Ryu will defend this week at the Marathon Classic.
So Yeon Ryu will defend this week at the Marathon Classic.Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

TOLEDO, Ohio — So Yeon Ryu met with the press at the Marathon Classic (formerly the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic) and discussed the state of her game heading into the tournament this week.

Upon her arrival in Toledo, she received a favorable omen:

“When I arrived here, I went to a Chinese restaurant and I got a fortune cookie that said, You will get what your heart desires. My heart desires I really want to win the tournament.”

Ryu is coming off a runner-up finish, losing to world No. 1, Inbee Park in a playoff, at the WalMart NW Arkansas Championship three weeks ago. She also finished in third place at the U.S. Women’s Open at Sebonack two weeks ago.

She slipped to a T-20 at the Manulife Classic last week, but except for a first round 71, she posted 67-68-64 over the final three rounds and finished at 14-under par for the tournament.

Ryu has been one of the most consistent women on the LPGA Tour over the past two years. She had 15 top-10 finishes in 2012, which earned her LPGA Rookie of the Year honors, and has had six top-10 finishes in 2013.

Wins and top-10 finishes were not coming early in the season, and she said she was putting too much pressure on herself. After the Wegman’s LPGA Championship, she decided to relax and enjoy the game:

“Well, after Wegman’s, I just totally reset my mind. This is my second year on LPGA, and last year, I think I couldn’t realize it...I played incredibly well.”

She added, “Every year is different. Also every tournament is different. So just forget about last year and then just focus on now.”

This is very sage advice from a 23-year-old that has left her home in Korea, has adapted to a new culture and learned a new language.

While touring the world playing golf tournaments, she also completed the requirements to earn her degree in Sports Business from Yonsei University in March 2013.

Ryu is looking ahead and plans to continue her education.

“When I retire as a golfer, I want to study about sports marketing.”

She is a close friend of Park and has witnessed firsthand Park’s fantastic accomplishments this year. She was asked about Park’s performance.

“Her putting was always great, but last year her (iron) shots were not that great. She would only have 3-to-5 birdie chances per round last year. She changed everything about her swing. This year she has 10-to-11 birdie chances per round.”

The LPGA will visit St. Andrews in a couple of weeks for the Ricoh Women’s British Open. Ryu has not yet visited the Auld Course but was asked about it and its significance.

“I don’t know about golf history, but it is a really good chance to see what golf was like 100 years ago. I can’t wait to go there.”

Ryu is currently ranked No. 5 in the world on the Rolex Rankings and is No. 5 on the LPGA Tour money list. She has a goal of someday reaching No. 1 but does not have a timetable set for that accomplishment as of yet.

Ryu is an intelligent and talented young lady. Adjusting to the rigors of constant travel and a complete change of culture is very difficult. Add to that the demands of a highly competitive occupation like professional golf, and maintaining a sense of calm and focus is nearly impossible.

On top of all of this, she graduated from college while ascending to the top of the LPGA Tour hierarchy.

The LPGA Tour embraces its international flavor. It is helping bring the world together and allowing Americans to gain a new perspective on the rest of the world.

Ryu is a wonderful example of the young ladies that compete on the LPGA Tour and a strong role model for young girls around the world.