Wednesday, So Yeon Ryu found the spark she’s been waiting for. The Korean carded a flawless 6-under par, 66 during the opening round of the LOTTE Championship for her low round of the year and first bogey-free round of 2019. Ryu offset a challenging day off the tee, in which she hit 8 of 14 fairways, by making it around in just 26 putts.
“I putted really great today,” Ryu said after her round. “Only thing I can complain is maybe my tee shot was not great enough, so I'm going to working on it. And then, well, even though I didn't really hit a lot of fairways, my iron shot was good enough to make a lot of birdie opportunity, so that was lucky.”
Wednesday’s low round is a bright spot in what has otherwise been an unexpected start for Ryu in 2019. The former Rolex Rankings world No. 1 has 82 career top 10s on Tour. She missed only three cuts in the last five years. But in her limited start to 2019, in which she’s played just four events, she hasn’t recorded a single top 10 and missed one cut. In her last start at the ANA Inspiration, where she won in 2017 and finished T39 two weeks ago, Ryu spoke about her desire to find more balance in her life away from the golf course. This week’s event in Hawaii is helping the current world No. 9 to achieve that goal.
“It's really hard to find some enjoyment off the golf course when we are traveling,” Ryu said Wednesday. “But here, like once you're off the golf course like so many great things around, and then I totally feel like I can make really, really good balance between my personal life and golfer's life. That's one the main focus I been trying hard to have it.”
To maintain that balance, the six-time winner on Tour plans to compartmentalize her work. She intends to take off Mondays and get back into grinding mode on Tuesdays. She stuck with that plan this week in Hawaii, which freed her up to spend more time sightseeing and at the beach.
“I just sort of kind of like had like agreement just by myself so like Tuesday is a grinding day, and I'm going to try to have at least one day off, which is maybe Monday. Then once I start to play like pro-am and everything, I just want to be like playing mode instead of just think about the technique too much.”
Ryu doesn’t need to worry about her technique. She’s one of the most accomplished players on Tour. But as the two-time major champion copes with results she’s not used to seeing, she’s being tested mentally to maintain her composure. She did that successfully on Wednesday.
“At least right now I feel like I'm not really frustrating by every shot. That's what I feel for like last few tournaments,” Ryu explained. “I got so frustrated after hitting one bad shot. Then right now I'm having like as long as I did my best for the shot, like no matter result I'm just going to get over it.”