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August 30, 2017

So Yeon Ryu

MARK LAMPERT‑STOKES: Thank you for joining us. With the final major, the Evian Championship, set to start in just over two weeks' time, we are delighted to have with us today world No. 1, So Yeon Ryu, who is in Portland, Oregon for this week's Cambia Portland Classic Presented by JTBC.
Many thanks for taking time out from your tournament preparations to speak with us.
SO YEON RYU: Thank you very much for having me.
MARK LAMPERT‑STOKES: Four majors have already been played this season, and there is just one remaining to decide the winner of the 2017 Rolex ANNIKA Major Award. Following your victory at the ANA Inspiration and your tie for third at the U.S. Women's Open, you have a healthy lead of 18 points in the standings.
What would it mean to you to follow in the footsteps of Michelle Wie, Inbee Park and Lydia Ko by becoming the RAMA winner for the best overall record in this year's five major championships?
SO YEON RYU: I guess the reason why the major is so special for us is major feels like‑‑ all the tournaments feels like it's real lying challenging but especially the major tournaments. The courses are set up more tough and every situation gives us extra pressure. That's why the people think that winning the major tournament is more special.
If I'm able to get the RAMA award, that means I would be able to handle all the pressure well and I was really good at all the challenging. So I think it's going to be really an honor to have the Rolex ANNIKA Major Award.
MARK LAMPERT‑STOKES: What would it mean to you to follow in the footsteps of Michelle, Inbee and Lydia?
SO YEON RYU: Yeah, Michelle won the U.S. Open when she won the award, and Inbee won a couple major tournaments back then and Lydia. Everybody is such a nice player that if I'm table to join that group, it's going to be very special, and it's going to give me more‑‑ how can I say‑‑ it's going to give me more extra motivation to keep playing well, and it's going to prove how much I worked hard to get this award.
MARK LAMPERT‑STOKES: As we all know, you produced excellent form on the LPGA Tour this season, two victories among your ten Top‑10 finishes. So you not only have great momentum on your side heading into the final major of the season, but also great memories of last year's Evian Championship where you tied for second place.
How much of a comfort factor is it for you when you go back to a venue where you've performed well before?
SO YEON RYU: Yeah, last year I played really, really great. In Gee (Chun) played better than me, and she won the tournament, which she very well deserved.
I feel pretty comfortable to going back there. There's always nice players, and especially Evian is always a special tournament. Their hospitality is really, really well, and you look at the previous winners, they are all really great players. The scenery is really beautiful, and the golf course, yeah, I look forward to going back to Evian. And hopefully I can bring my game out, and I really wish I can win the tournament. Of course, that's going to bring me to the Rolex ANNIKA Major Award, as well, then the Evian Championship always has a very special ceremony at the last hole, after you win the tournament, and hopefully I'm going to see that at the 18th hole.

Q. (How much pressure is it being world No. 1)?
SO YEON RYU: Well, a lot of people‑‑ world number one, I was very overwhelmed and I just couldn't believe it and I just couldn't really describe how I feel; I was really, really happy.
But after that, just everything is normal, just like even I win tournament, I still want to be better player every day. I still want to improve my game every tournament. I think even though I was No. 1, I didn't feel any more special thing.
I just got a lot of attention from a lot of people; especially last week in Canada, a lot of fans came out and a lot of people been like yelling to me like, oh, you're awesome, you're No. 1, world No. 1, keep going on. Those kind of things definitely make me happy to be No. 1.
I think it just makes me a little more tougher. Just every day I want to be great and every day I want to play well. I think that's only one now‑‑ kind of tough to me.

Q. Prior to Canada, you spent two weeks in Korea. What was the reception like since that was really the first extended stay you've had over there since being world No. 1. What was the reception like, and was it different?
SO YEON RYU: I went to see family and friends and awe concert, they were all happy for me becoming No. 1. I was very fortunate, the people around me‑‑ so I spent a lot of time with my really close family and close friends, and they were all like: "So Yeon, to me, you're a sister and to me just you're my really good friend, but it's kind of weird to see you No. 1; I'm very proud of you."
So when they said to me, yeah, I was very proud of myself, as well but at the same time, I just want to be the same person all the time.
Yeah, the one thing I can say, there's definitely a lot of people a lot of people congratulate me about becoming No. 1.

Q. Cam McCormick, wonder if you've talked to him that much about how Jordan has dealt with a lot of attention and being a top player, and obviously winning majors and what comes with that, and if you learned anything from him, you know, sort of through Jordan, I guess.
SO YEON RYU: Well, I met Jordan once since I become No. 1 and we just couldn't really have much time to talk about it. So we didn't really talk about being No. 1. We just say congratulations, both of us, to win a tournament because that was a time when I won the Wal‑Mart and he just won the tournament.
And with Cameron, like even before I become No. 1, Cameron already had a really good understanding about how much pressure to being a top player. So we always like to talk, like every time after we finish a tournament and every time we have a first lesson after that, it will be we are not striking balls right away. We also have like 20 minutes, 30 minutes talk.
He always tried to give me a lot of confident, like because you know, like you're a top player, a lot of people talk about your game and in case you might have a chance to lose confidence sometimes‑‑ so yeah every time when I have a talk to him, he always gives me an option‑‑ I mean, he always make me stay positive and try to be more focused to how I'm going to prepare the tournament, instead of just being a lot of pressure to be a great player.

Q. A question for you about your record in the majors. After you won the U.S. Women's Open, your record is actually really good. Ten times you were fifth place or better. You get yourself in contention all the time. I'm curious, though, what was that like, having played well in so many majors but you weren't able to win one until the ANA. Was that frustrating or what was it like trying to break through again?
SO YEON RYU: Like I all always love to play major tournament because of golf course because major tournament normally setup the golf course really tough and tight. Then in that case, you have to be really creative and you can have a lot of situations, and I always enjoy myself to learn something new. I think that's one of the reasons why I love to play majors.
Also I think that enjoyment helped me out to play well at the majors. Also I think that attitude could be really positive on the golf course, even after you hit a bad shot, you still started to think about how I'm going to make up this shot, how I'm going to make birdie at the next hole, this kind of stuff.
At the same time, I just said maybe I was so close to winning the tournament, the major, maybe a few times, even after‑‑ and then like when you were so close and if you fail to win the tournament and you have a chance to really get down on yourself and just be really disappointed about it.
So I think those like five to six years of experience definitely helped me out to keep positive and battling in the ANA Inspiration.

Q. Your record at Evian is pretty good. You had a fourth‑place finish the very first time you ever played it. You tied for second last time. What do you think of that golf course, and how does it suit you?
SO YEON RYU: I think just the major, it's more important to not making a bogey instead of make a lot of birdies. Of course it's really important to make a lot of birdies but at the major tournament, you have more chance to make bogeys compared to any other regular tournament because they set the golf course up to being‑‑ I mean, to not being like shot like too low scores.
I think I always really focus on just do a lot of chipping and bunker shot stuff, a lot of short game stuff, especially prepare for the tournament. Also, like Tom (Watson), of course, really helpful to give me idea how to prepare the tournament and also he seems gives me a really great idea, how can I handle the situation around the greens because he been professional golfer before, as well.
I think those two facts also help me to play well at the major.

Q. Do you approach Evian any differently than the other majors, though?
SO YEON RYU: You mean, I prepare a little differently to‑‑

Q. Do you prepare differently, and maybe even play it differently than you would any other majors?
SO YEON RYU: No, no. It's not really any special thing. But I always try to be like always try to make the same situation as like major tournament. When I have a practice, I always feel like, having an attitude about this is a major, I mean, this is a real tournament. It's not just practice.
So when I practice, I always make a situation like tournament. It's like, Ian‑Baker Finch taught me like chipping drill feels like to be like real situation. So I think those chipping drills also helpful to feel the same thing as a tournament.

Q. It's very early in the year but I wanted to ask, at what point do you start thinking about things like the Race to the CME Globe and Player of the Year? You've got a million‑dollar bonus hanging out there but there's a lot of golf left, we know, in November. Is it something that's in the back of your mind, and if not, when will it start being in the back of your mind?
SO YEON RYU: To be honest, I never really thought about it but when I was in Korea, a lot of people started to talk about, oh, So Yeon, now you have a chance for Player of the Year. Now you have a really good chance to win the Race to the CME Globe.
So like when people starting to talk about it, definitely you start to think about it. Well, I'm not going to lie, it's definitely kind of pressure to me. Because being Player of the Year, it's really, really a great opportunity and I really want to be Player of the Year for this year, as well.
Yeah, it's a lot of pressure but all I can do is do my best and prepare for the tournament well, and then I'm just going to wait on the result until the last tournament of the year.

Q. Do you watch sometimes men's golf during your weeks off?
SO YEON RYU: Yeah, I do.

Q. Okay. Let me ask you this: Is there a player on the PGA TOUR that you enjoy watching and feel you can learn something from?
SO YEON RYU: I'm not particularly supporting just one player. I always love to watch, you know, every PGA player. Every time when I watch the PGA TOUR, I think their game is definitely a bit different than us. They hit like really, really long and obviously they are stronger than us. So they can hit some different shots.
Some of the things I can learn but some of the things, I just feel like, wow, is a human being able to do that. Sometimes I felt that way. But yeah, so of course I learn a lot of things from the PGA TOUR. Especially I think they have more creativity, especially around the greens. So that's the thing I'm most‑‑ the reason why I really enjoy it.
Also, Jordan is also coaching from my coach, as well, so maybe Jordan and other Korean players, as well.

Q. Why do you think they would have more creativity around the green? There doesn't seem to be any reason men would have that more than women, is there?
SO YEON RYU: I think the course setup is definitely a bit different. Like sometimes like they are not just making any rough around the green. In that case, they are able‑‑ I mean, it's like links‑style. Even though it's not links‑style golf course, it's like links‑style golf course. Sometimes they have 3‑wood around the green, 7‑iron around the green. So I think that's why they have more chance to be creative.
And also because they hit so long, a lot of par 4s and a lot of par 5s is reachable. So I think they have more opportunity to have kind of like tricky situation compared to the women. Also, we hit straighter than them. We hit shorter than them but we hit straighter than them. We have more opportunity to hit from the fairway.

Q. I just wanted to ask if there's one area of your game that you are trying to tidy up on or focus on coming into the next major.
SO YEON RYU: I think definitely putting, especially the last week. I think I was able to get in contention myself but I couldn't do it because putting was not great enough. Until Saturday, putting was just okay, it was like B. But the last round, my putting was not even C then. I just lost an opportunity to get in position for myself to get in contention.
I think definitely putting. Also putting is the one I really focus on to prepare to play this week's tournament, as well.
MARK LAMPERT‑STOKES: Thanks, everybody, for joining us today. And So Yeon, thank you so much for your time and play well this week.
SO YEON RYU: Thank you very much for having me.

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