Golf is the truest test of attitude.
The sport has its own crazy way of either satisfying or humbling a player on any given shot. But what matters most is how the mental aspect of the game is managed no matter what the outcome.
For South Korean So Yeon Ryu, the hardest lesson she’s learned this season is when to love the game when she’s at her lowest point.
“You know, if sometimes if I play really bad, I just hate everything,” said Ryu. “I hate my swing, I hate my personality, and I hate everything.”
It’s rare to see this 23-year-old without her contagious smile and affable demeanor on the course. So rare that you would have never guessed the inner struggles Ryu was facing after missing her first cut of the season at the Wegmans LPGA Championship last month.
“You know, if you missed a cut, it’s kind of hard to not think about it, at least for myself,” said Ryu. “Normally, if I play bad I always find my chocolate and recharge my batteries like that.”
But Ryu had a different plan this time around.
“I sat down at my desk and created a Mind Map,” said Ryu. “I put my name in the center and wrote everything that’s going on in my mind or what I have to fix surrounding it.
“Then I realized how many people love me, how many people support me. Those are really big things. I realized how lucky I am. I’ve wanted to play on LPGA ever since I was young and now I’m here. Why am I upset about one missed cut? It’s a great way to think big picture.”
The positive reinforcement from her web of truths proved to be just what she needed. In the following weeks, Ryu managed to notch a runner-up finish at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship and placed third at the U.S. Women’s Open.
“I just think about myself and I really figured out what I have to do,” Ryu says of her recent outburst. “I think it looks like really working. So I just want to keep focused on my game, and the most important thing is just love myself.”
Now with a clear mentality and beaming confidence, Ryu feels like a trip to the winner’s circle is within her reach.
“You know, I haven't won for a while,” said Ryu. “Kind of a drought, and I really want to win. I'm pretty sure it's time to win.”
The reigning Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year came out of the gates with her sights set high and lofty expectations for the 2013 season. Instead of feeling pressure, Ryu feels like it’s the perfect opportunity to build upon the success she’s already had on Tour and aim for higher accolades.
“Before I think it might have been a lot of pressure but now I don’t think so because I’ve already achieved one of my goals,” said Ryu. “Now I’m a bit more relaxed. The thing is, I always fixed my goals on big things like Player of the Year or Vare Trophy. It’s not pressure, it’s more of a great motivator. I'm really proud of myself, but my now my goal is No. 1 player in the world, so Inbee will have to watch out.”