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June 27, 2017

So Yeon Ryu

Olympia Fields, Illinois

CHRISTINA LANCE: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to the media center here at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship. We're also happy to be streaming live on Facebook Live, so welcome to our fans out there, as well. My name is Christina Lance with LPGA Tour media, and it is my honor to be joined by the newly-minted world No. 1, So Yeon Ryu. So Yeon earned that honor on Sunday with a win at the Wal-Mart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G. She's a five-time LPGA winner, including the 2017 ANA Inspiration, the 2011 U.S. Women's Open. She is first on the LPGA's official Money List, the race to the CME Globe, the Rolex Player of the Year and the Rolex Annika Major Award. No pleasure there. Welcome to Olympia Fields. First off, you said reaching world No. 1 was a dream come true. Have you realized yet that you're awake and it's real?

SO YEON RYU: I actually still cannot believe it. I always dreamed about it, but I didn't know like two things came together at the same time. Then also, well, last week I was really thrilled to shoot like 61, and I was really thrilled to have won twice already on the LPGA this year, and I couldn't really think about the World Ranking because I was 3, so I thought I was kind of far away from No. 1. But yeah, here I am, I've finally become No. 1, and as you said, dreams come true. I'm living in a dream. I feel very fortunate to become a No. 1 player in the world, and if I look back to all the previous No. 1 players, they were such nice players and they were nice, nice person. I really want to be a nice player and a nice person and I want to keep this position as much as I can, as long as I can.

CHRISTINA LANCE: You mentioned last week in Arkansas you basically rewrote the record books. For those of you who weren't with us, So Yeon set the single round, the 36- and the 54-hole tournament scoring records last week in Arkansas. What can you pull from your success last week here at Olympia Fields, or can you pull anything at all? How do you play that game?

SO YEON RYU: Yeah, first of all, I definitely got a lot of confidence from last week and won the tournament and I shot a really low score on Saturday, and even though I couldn't make a lot of birdies on Sunday, I had a bunch of birdie chances, and yeah, for sure like from last week I got a lot of confidence to play this major tournament, especially I think this week is really important to have a great iron shot, and my iron shot has been really great. I feel pretty comfortable playing this golf course.

CHRISTINA LANCE: You've had 140 plus LPGA starts, and all of those starts you've only missed five cuts. What is it that drives you so much out on the golf course to your success?

SO YEON RYU: I think I still really enjoy this game. I think that can make me play really consistent. Well, this is golf, you know, I'm not a robot, so sometimes I play bad, sometimes great, but even when I play bad, I still enjoy this game, so I think it's how I was able to handle all the situation pretty well that I made a lot of cuts. Yeah, I feel very fortunate to have made a lot of cuts. I missed not many cuts even after I played like over 100 tournaments, and hopefully I can make many more cuts for the future, as well.

CHRISTINA LANCE: And I know you had your pro-am this morning, so you got 18 holes under your belt. What are your thoughts on the course here at Olympia Fields?

SO YEON RYU: Yesterday I played the back nine, then today I played 18, and I felt like the front nine was much tighter than the back nine. And the back nine greens are really, really tough. Everything is really slopey, so we have to make sure we finish the ball just in front of the pin instead of just above the pin. And I can see that you have to be really smart with the tee shot, a lot of bunkers in your way and a lot of trees in your way, so I think it's really important to have a good discussion with the caddie, as well.

Q. You play well on very difficult golf courses, whether it's the U.S. Open or the ANA. How would you rank this golf course in terms of its difficulty and as a major championship venue, how do you think it stacks up?
SO YEON RYU: To be honest, rough is not really long yet compared to last two years at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship. But the rough lengths, this is kind of like -- I kind of hate to say this, but easiest so far, and green is -- it's very different these greens compared to last two years' golf course, and also compared to any other major tournament golf course. To me smaller than any other golf course, but it's really slopey, so the green wise, this is one of the toughest for sure. Also it could be -- it's going to be really -- depends on how firm it's going to be and how fast it's going to be, then I assume the greens are going to be like really firm and fast, it's going to be one of the toughest greens.

Q. A lot of players when they reach No. 1 or they win a major, they feel like, okay, I've now reached my goal and there's a little bit of a letdown. How do you avoid that?
SO YEON RYU: I think right now my biggest goal and my most important goal and the most -- how can I say? Yeah, I mean, the Grand Slam is one of my best goals right now. That's the one I really want to achieve. So even though I'm No. 1 right now, I still have to knock down three more tournaments to become a Grand Slam winner, so I don't think I am going to stop to keep improving myself.

Q. You're speaking of the season Grand Slam or your career Grand Slam? You're going for the season Grand Slam, right?
SO YEON RYU: Actually career Grand Slam, but I haven't think about the season Grand Slam yet, but if I can do it, that's going to be fantastic.

Q. And then we know how popular women's golf is in South Korea. Can you give us a feel for what you going to No. 1 has been like back home? Have you heard a lot, getting a lot of feedback?
SO YEON RYU: Oh, yeah, of course. Like a lot of my family and friends have been really excited to see I'm No. 1 player right now, and they've seen how much I worked hard to become the No. 1 player in the world. I've got a lot of great messages from them, so I feel really fortunate to become the No. 1 player in the world and then make them happy, as well. And then I feel like I really have a lot of great supporters, so I really feel great about it, as well.

Then we had Jiyai Shin and Inbee Park as previous No. 1 in the world, and people were definitely excited, but they also want to see -- interesting to see how long I can be the No. 1 player in the world for the future. So I don't know how long I can be, but for sure I'm going to do my best to keep this position long as I can.

Q. Speaking of Inbee, she's a close friend of yours; has she given you any advice about being No. 1, and is there anything that you've sort of learned from just watching her?
SO YEON RYU: I had dinner with her on Sunday right after I won the Wal-Mart, and I didn't know I'd become the world No. 1. The middle of my dinner Inbee actually said, So Yeon, when you first time came out on the LPGA Tour, which was 2012, that was the time I started to play well, then that was the time I started to get close to No. 1, then I was No. 1 for a while when I've been good friends with you, and right now I can kind of see you following in my steps and right now you've become No. 1, so for sure we're having a really good influence to each other. Then she's like, you're the one always congrats me and you're the one always celebrating all good things with me, that I'm so glad I can be with you when you have a really good time, so that was when she talked to me.

Then when she said I can give -- we can give a good influence to each other, I feel really great about it, which means also I did something great for her, as well, and so that was a really good comment. Yeah, I mean, she's not really saying much about the golf, but I learned a lot of things through what she's doing. Like even when she was No. 1, she never changed. She never changed the behavior, like I'm the No. 1. She never really reacted like I'm like the world's best player, she was always a nice person.

And then even though when she was playing well or not, she was always the same person. She never really got her down or never really being cocky. I more learned about how to be great player through how she reacts instead of how she talked.

Q. Where did you have dinner?
SO YEON RYU: Am I okay to say the restaurant?

Q. Yeah.
SO YEON RYU: Ruth's Chris steakhouse.

Q. Can you tell us how the swing changes you made, which you said are pretty dramatic, how much of a factor they were in you being able to become No. 1?
SO YEON RYU: You know, even after I changed my swing, I still hit missed shots, but the missed shot is less risky I would say, even though when I had a bad shot, my ball still is inside of maybe like 10 yards, 15 yards. It's still not really like big range. So I think that's one of the biggest things since I started to change my swing.

Then also I started to hit the ball long. Compared to ANA these days, I'm not as long as back then, but I still hit it pretty long, which means I have a lot of chances to hit short irons in compared to the last few years, which means it makes me more easier to get close to pins.

Q. What do you like most about Cameron as a coach?
SO YEON RYU: I think he has a really good balance between technique and mental. Like sometimes, you know, it's not all about the technique, even though when you don't have perfect swing, you're still able to play well, but even though when you have a perfect swing, you might cannot play really well. So I think it's really important to have good technique -- it's really important to having a good balance between technique and mental, like feel, and Cameron is the one having a really good balance. Like he uses a lot of new techniques, like filling in the golf swing, then using some program to check out all the golf, like all the angles and swing plane. But at the same time, he knows how to keep the good feel about it. He never really upsets with, okay, this is the right position, this is the right angle, you have to like this kind of angle at impact. He never really too obsess about the technical thing. So I think he has a really good balance between technique and feel.

Q. Working with Cameron, have you had much interaction with Jordan Spieth, and has any of Jordan's obviously great mojo in the game rubbed off on you?
SO YEON RYU: I think even before I started working with Cameron, Cameron already had plenty of experience with Jordan, which is top player in the world. So I think Cameron already knows about what we are feeling when we're playing golf as top professionals. So he can give me really good advice about how to relax in pressure situations and how to be dealing with all the pressure to being No. 1 in the world. So I think it's a really great part, and yeah, I've seen -- I've met Jordan a couple times, but we always had our lesson times, so we never really practiced together. But yeah, he's a really nice guy that I can see how much he's dedicated about this game. That's how he became a really great player in the world.

Yeah, I definitely learned something so far, and definitely I'm going to learn something from him, as well, for the future.

Q. I know you're not 48 hours into it, but do you feel any responsibility now as the No. 1 player in the world, and if so, what is that responsibility?
SO YEON RYU: I haven't think about that yet, even though right now I'm No. 1, I cannot really feel like -- feel like nothing really changed compared to five years ago. Maybe the only thing is I got more attention like this, and maybe I have to have more interview and I have to maybe give more autographs kind of thing, which is a good thing. I feel really great about it, but haven't really feel pressure or responsibility as the No. 1 player.

Q. It is so rare to see you miss a cut, so when you did miss that last cut and you had a chance to go to No. 1 there, how did you react to that? Did it motivate you? How did you respond?
SO YEON RYU: You know, even though like back then maybe I was made like 63 or 64 cut in a row, but then it wasn't -- my goal was not, okay, never miss the cut. That's my goal. I never really set up the goal like that. So when everybody started to say, oh, So Yeon, you never miss the cut, you're going to make maybe 100 cuts, then when all the people start to talk about it, you kind of feel like, okay, I'm the one have to make the cut all the time. So when I missed cut at ShopRite, to be honest, I almost feel like end of the world, but I realized the fact actually gave me a lot of extra pressure, and then I started to look back how I treated myself, then I realized I never really treated myself really well. Just like, for example, even when I shot like 5-under, I never really told myself, So Yeon, you did a great job. I never really talked to myself like that. I was like, okay, that's what you had to do, and you have to keep that low score for the future.

After I realized that, I started to give a lot of good words to myself, as well, like for example, after practice I always thinking about like did I really do my best, did I practice hard. I always having those kind of questions, but I just changed the attitude like So Yeon, you did your best, your practice was awesome, quality was awesome, quality of practice, so get some sleep, then you're going to be a better golfer tomorrow. So I think after I missed the cut, it was a really great opportunity to look deep inside my mind, and it was a really great opportunity to treat myself better. So hopefully this kind of attitude makes me even happier golfer on the Tour.

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