EVIAN-LES-BAINS – If there were a poster child for consistency on the LPGA Tour, it would be tough to find a more fitting candidate than So Yeon Ryu.
The Korean epitomizes what it means to play well, week after week and year after year on the biggest stage in the women’s game. For more than three seasons, Ryu didn’t miss a single cut on the LPGA Tour, spanning 64 events between 2014 and 2017. And she’s missed only one cut in 36 major starts.
Five years ago, the Rolex Annika Major award was established to identify players who perform best in golf’s major championships. Not surprisingly, the award went to Ryu in 2017, due in large part to her victory at the ANA Inspiration, and she’s in the mix to win the award again in 2018.
The award seems designed with Ryu in mind. To qualify, players must win at least one of the season’s five major championships and record top 10 finishes in majors in order to earn the necessary points. Ryu didn’t win one of the season’s first four majors, but she twice finished in the top 3, including a runner-up finish at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. Her solid performance this season has earned her enough points to put her in position to win the award with a win at the Evian Championship on Sunday.
“I’m going to do my best to make that happen,” Ryu said ahead of the season’s final major.
Ryu has been a constant contender at golf’s major championships. In fact, Ryu launched her career on the LPGA Tour by winning the 2011 U.S. Women’s Open to take up membership on Tour. Now in her seventh year on Tour, Ryu has learned that there is joy in the pursuit of another win or major title. But where her true happiness lies is within the process, the journey it took to earn each of her six titles on Tour.
“I realize I was always a person that cares about the process more, instead of the result,” said Ryu. “I love to work hard to improve myself.”
This season has been a work in progress for Ryu. After a career best season in 2017 that saw her reach No. 1 in the Rolex Rankings, share Player of the Year honors with Sung Hyun Park and win her second major title, the year was bound to be tough to follow. This season, Ryu has lacked the one quality that has distinguished her more than any other in her career. Consistency.
“I’m not really 100 percent satisfied with my result this year. Compared to any other year, this was one of the most inconsistent.”
Despite the up and down year, Ryu captured the Meijer LPGA Classic and has four more top 10s, two of those coming in majors. But her closing round at the Ricoh Women’s British Open played out much like her season. It was inconsistent. She started the final round two-strokes back of the lead, but after a double-bogey, bogey start she rallied to shoot a 2-under par, 70 and settled for third. She came up short of her third major title but walked away with a valuable lesson that helped her reset for the remainder of her year.
“I really felt like I was burnt-out,” said Ryu. “Even though I did my best on the golf course, I didn’t really prepare well to play the tournament really well.”
That preparation meant getting back to the part of the game she loves the most. The process. She’s recommitted to her preparation ahead of the Evian Championship and the season’s closing stretch. Which has also redefined what Ryu would consider a successful 2018 season.
“If I can say to myself, ‘Okay, I put 100 percent effort to make my season really great,’ I think that’ll be perfect.”