So Yeon Ryu (Pre-championship Interview)

July 3, 2012


THE MODERATOR:   Last year at this time it was just four days before So Yeon Ryu won 2011 United States Women's Open Championship.  She won it in a three‑hole playoff with Hee Kyung Seo.  And we're very happy to welcome her here as the defending champion.  

SO YEON RYU:  Thank you.  

THE MODERATOR:  I understand that another great champion Se Ri Pak, who won here in 1998, gave you some advice.  

SO YEON RYU:  Yeah.  

THE MODERATOR:  On how to play this championship and this golf course.  

SO YEON RYU:  Actually, really interesting is she said don't take too much practice at the golf course, because sometimes too much information make you crazy.  And I totally understand it, because when I came here first time at media day, almost one month ago, the first time I played the course, I felt like not bad.  But after that, the course feels like getting more tough and tough.  

So even this week I just decided to practice 9 hole and 9 holes, and that's it.  And then especially Se Ri said the putting is really important.  So I focused on the speed at the putting green.  Anyway, Se Ri said keep the low expectation.  No more practice at the golf course.  Just trust yourself.  

So I will.  

THE MODERATOR:  Questions?  

Q.  Curious, you were here for media day, and you played around then.  What's different about the course now?  What have you noticed changed?  Is it more difficult now?  How have things changed?  

SO YEON RYU:  The big thing is the 18th hole.  Before the left side is just bunker.  Now you guys filled it up, the water.  So it feels like more afraid of it.  

But the good thing is the fairway is still wide.  It's not too narrow.  The bad thing is the greens getting firmer and faster and faster.  The different thing is just 18 holes and the green speed.  And I think maybe fairway will be getting harder.  

Q.  Along the same lines with the water on 18, for the media day you went into what was then a bunker, took the shoes off and played that shot.  

SO YEON RYU:  Yes.  

Q.  Would you have preferred to have taken the shoes off and stepped into water to play that shot?  

SO YEON RYU:  Actually, at the tournament I don't want to try it.  But just at media day I just want to try it, because actually the photo of Se Ri standing under the water hazard on the 18th is kind of iconic in Korea, because how can I say?  Se Ri is just feels like the hero at the moment because Korea had an IMF at the moment '97 and 8.  Always at the moment I guess I want to try it.  But now I'm here, and I just want to try it at the moment.  

So it's kind of interesting moment.  Actually, it's really steep, the hill.  So before I thought it's not that tough shot.  But now I thought it's pretty tough shot.  So Se Ri did really great at the moment, yeah.  


Q.  Was Se Ri's victory here a factor in your trying to become a professional golfer?  


SO YEON RYU:  It's definitely 1998 U.S. Women's Open.  Definitely.  That's a really big tournament.  So that's why the last year when I won the U.S. Women's Open, Se Ri following the playoff.  It was huge for me, because she's my hero.  I'm pretty inspired with the 1998 U.S. Open.  And then I send up U.S. Women's Open.  So that moment is pretty really, really special thing for me. 

THE MODERATOR:  And it was because of that 1998 Women's Open that you put down your violin and picked up your golf clubs.  

SO YEON RYU:  Actually, yes, that's true.  At the moment just golf is my hobby and violin is my dream.  But now violin is my hobby, golf is my dream, my job.  So totally changed.  

THE MODERATOR:  To win a national championship seems to be a momentous thing.  Being the U.S. Women's Open champion, has that changed your life in any way?  

SO YEON RYU:  Definitely, because ‑‑ after U.S. Women's Open, lots of people recognize me.  And now I'm a major Korean.  Before I don't have any major title in KLPGA.  So I always really wanted to win the major tournament.  But U.S. Women's Open is really huge major tournament.  That's why it feels like that moment is my turning point.  Now I play in LPGA Tour, and this is pretty interesting tournament.  And it's really exciting tour.  

Little sad thing is I heard of Colorado Springs fire the last week.  The area is a really special area for me, so I feel really sorry for Colorado Springs.  I want to come back everything as soon as possible in Colorado Springs.  

THE MODERATOR:  Do you hear from any of your friends there in Colorado Springs?  Did you make friends during the championship?  

SO YEON RYU:  Actually, I don't have any friends in Colorado Springs.  But the last year lots of volunteers and spectators cheering for me.  So I feel like everybody is my friends and fan.  So I really sorry for hear that.  


Q.  Do you really enjoy courses that potentially could be as difficult as this one that you really have to plan through every hole, and obviously pin placements are going to change your strategy day to day?  Do you enjoy playing them when they're this tough?  

SO YEON RYU:  Actually, always major tournament course is pretty challenging.  Especially this course is really tough.  The USGA set up the tee around the back one and forward one.  So we have to hit a lot of shape shots.  How can I say?  Sometimes just the green is too big, so sometimes chipping is better than putting.  So this golf course is really ‑‑ the management is really important.  


Q.  I was curious to ask as many of the golfers as I could what they feel will be the toughest hole this year.  Last year I know it was hole 7.  What do you think will be the toughest hole this year?  

SO YEON RYU:  This year, actually, easy to say easy holes.  

THE MODERATOR:  Toughest.  


SO YEON RYU:  Toughest hole.  I think 16 is pretty tough.  Par‑5.  It's dogleg right and left.  We have to hit the fairway, and then the second shot was pretty ‑‑ is pretty tough, because it's around the green.  They have a big tree just right of the water hazard.  So we have to hit the right side.  Right side is really thick rough right there.  So it's really hard to playing at the 16.  

But every golf course definitely 18 hole is more important, and more toughest, I think.  So anyway, the 16th, 17th, 18th is really tough hole.  


THE MODERATOR:  Thank you so much.  


SO YEON RYU:  Thank you.  


THE MODERATOR:  Good luck this week.  


SO YEON RYU:  Thanks a lot.  Thank you.  


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