So Yeon Ryu embarks on first major championship with world No. 1 ranking

By T.J. Auclair
Published on
So Yeon Ryu embarks on first major championship with world No. 1 ranking

OLYMPIA FIELDS, Illinois -- Korea's So Yeon Ryu will never forget her victory on Sunday in Arkansas.

Not only did she shoot a career-low 61 in the second round on her way to her second win of the 2017 LPGA season -- the only multiple winner on Tour this year -- but the victory also propelled her to No. 1 in the world ranking for the first time in her career.

"I actually still cannot believe it," said the two-time major winner. "I always dreamed about it, but I didn't know like two things came together at the same time. Then also, well, last week I was really thrilled to shoot like 61, and I was really thrilled to have won twice already on the LPGA this year, and I couldn't really think about the World Ranking because I was 3, so I thought I was kind of far away from No. 1. But yeah, here I am, I've finally become No. 1."

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It's been a "dream come true" according to Ryu.

"I'm living in a dream," she said. "I feel very fortunate to become a No. 1 player in the world, and if I look back to all the previous No. 1 players, they were such nice players and they were nice, nice person. I really want to be a nice player and a nice person and I want to keep this position as much as I can, as long as I can."

All but two of Ryu's 11 starts this season have yielded a top-10 finish. Her first victory of the season also happened to be a major -- the ANA Inspiration.

It was there in California that she topped Lexi Thompson in a playoff after Thompson was assessed a four-shot penalty on the back nine during the final round for an infraction that happened in Round 3.

A win is a win, but Ryu seemed to feel sad for Thompson rather than happy for herself -- that's just the kind of person she is.

But here she is this week just outside of Chicago with a chance to go 2-for-2 in the season's first two majors.

"I definitely got a lot of confidence from last week and won the tournament and I shot a really low score on Saturday, and even though I couldn't make a lot of birdies on Sunday, I had a bunch of birdie chances, and yeah, for sure like from last week I got a lot of confidence to play this major tournament, especially I think this week is really important to have a great iron shot, and my iron shot has been really great," said Ryu, who has missed the cut just five times in 140 LPGA starts. "I feel pretty comfortable playing this golf course."

Interestingly, Ryu shares something in common with Jordan Spieth and it isn't just that the pair won on their respective Tours Sunday.

They share the same coach in Cameron McCormick.

"I think Cameron already knows about what we are feeling when we're playing golf as top professionals," she said. "So he can give me really good advice about how to relax in pressure situations and how to be dealing with all the pressure to being No. 1 in the world. So I think it's a really great part, and yeah, I've seen -- I've met Jordan a couple times, but we always had our lesson times, so we never really practiced together. But yeah, he's a really nice guy and I can see how much he's dedicated about this game. That's how he became a really great player in the world."