This week at the BMW Ladies Championship marks 2023 rookie Hae Ran Ryu’s first time teeing it up in the Republic of Korea as an LPGA Tour champion, and through two rounds, the 22-year-old is squarely in the mix, sitting in a tie for fourth at 8-under. After opening her week at Seowon Valley Country Club with a flawless 7-under 65, the Suwon native ground out a 1-under 71 on day two, a round that saw her make two birdies and one bogey. She began the day with nine consecutive pars on the front nine, finally breaking through with a birdie on the par-4 10th hole. Ryu made four more pars before picking up another birdie on the par-5 15th hole, dropping a shot on 16 and then parring 17 and 18 to post at 8-under, three back of the lead held by Minjee Lee.
With chilly, windy conditions plaguing the field, any number in the red was a good score on Friday in Gyeonggi-do. For Ryu, the second round was definitely a grind, one in which she felt like her game was lacking, but she fought through and was grateful to at least make a couple of birdies, scores that were hard to come by in the swirling, variable winds.
“I think nothing was working for me today, not at all. But at least I got two birdies when I thought I wasn't going to get any,” said Ryu, who has made just one bogey through 36 holes and is tied for first in the least number of bogeys this week alongside Hannah Green. “I think towards the end, my iron shot got better, but the wind was really weird today, so it was difficult to make any birdie opportunities. So, I was happy to get the first one. And the second one was a par 5, so there was absolutely no question that I had to get a birdie there.”
Ryu became the season’s 11th Rolex First-Time Winner at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G, winning by three shots over Sweden’s Linnea Strom. She became the fifth different rookie to win this season and was the first rookie to win wire-to-wire since Patty Tavatanakit did so at the 2021 Chevron Championship. Ryu is the 49th different player from the Republic of Korea to win on the LPGA Tour and is one of three Koreans to win on Tour this season, alongside Jin Young Ko and Hyo Joo Kim.
As she works to track down her second career LPGA Tour victory over the weekend, Ryu knows she must figure out a way to score despite the challenging conditions at Seowon Valley Country Club that caused scores to rise in the second round. And the key to those low numbers might just lie with her flat stick, a part of her game that Ryu felt needed some work following round two and one that should help her convert more of the birdie chances she’s been giving herself thus far after hitting 17 of 18 greens on both Thursday and Friday.
“I wasn't too happy with the way I was putting today,” said Ryu, who hit 35 total putts on Friday. “So, I think I want to get in a little practice with my putting. And according to the forecast (for Saturday), there's supposed to be a little less wind. So, I think we really need to try to make birdie opportunities tomorrow.”